Earlier this week I wrote about my philosophy of giving. I will continue that conversation on Monday. This month’s Featured Fundraiser is Edward Sumner and coincidentally the organization he works for is an organization I believe in enough to have given to. If you ever would like to nominate someone for Feature Fundraiser just send me an email. – Jason
What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?
I’m currently serving as the Director of Development and Community Relations for New Horizons Ministries. We’re a Christian social service agency whose mission is to be in relationship with Seattle’s homeless and street involved young people, serving and loving in the way of Jesus, equipping them to leave street life. The skinny of my role is to provide strategic oversight for developing integrated and multi-channel fundraising efforts to financially empower our cause. God has called me to connect His people to His mission and it’s a humbling gift to be able to do this.
What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?
I want to be where God is working, and he is working in the lives of the young people we serve. I’m passionate about serving the least and the lost, and am a firm believer in the adage that grace is like water, pooling up in the low places. Stewarding the ministry of giving for our donors and foundations is most rewarding when we can ensure that they feel very much a part of the transformation that God is doing in our youth. I keep working to connect these dots to create a giving experience for our supporters that’s equally transformative because they feel like they are with us in the trenches.
What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?
Doris Day said that the importance of the Gospel is not only to comfort the oppressed, but to oppress the comfortable. I would never advocate for upsetting or trying to frighten prospective donors into giving, but I do believe in telling the truth about the abuse, neglect, racism, addiction, and domestic trafficking that ravages our young people and other people groups. The best advice I can give to other fundraisers is to speak truth about the cause and recognize that behind every social action there is likely a spiritual movement happening. Trust it.
What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?
The most frustrating thing about fundraising is when people don’t give as much or as often as you think they should. Bring the humility.
Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?
After learning that we had been robbed of some bus tokens, one of the young people we serve took his drums and our brochures to the street with a cardboard sign that said ‘Raising money for a youth center that was robbed, every penny helps.’ He raised over $250 and brought it to our front door. One of the most memorable donor moments to date.
Do you have any events coming up?
We have an upcoming walk-a-thon event coming up this Saturday, June 5, 2010 at their offices in downtown Seattle. The goal is to raise $35,000 to help Seattle’s homeless and street involved youth. If you’d like you can register as a walker or feel free to support me with a onetime financial gift.