Fundraiser of the Month: Patrick Sallee

July 28, 2008

This is a new idea that would replace the Org of the Month concept I have been doing for the last few months. I will be highlighting a different fundraiser every month and asking them to talk about what makes them good at what they do. This week the Fundraiser of the month is Patrick Sallee. Feel free to ask him a question or refer someone you know of that’s a great fundraiser in the comments section below. If you want to learn more about Patrick feel free to check out his blog. Thanks Patrick!

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

I am the Director of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Kansas City. My position focuses on corporate, foundation and individual donors, primarily outside of our special event fundraising.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

I enjoy working with people that are committed to a cause. It energizes me everyday to see volunteers so committed to doing something to help change a child’s life. You can’t help but give it your best when you see so many people that care and whose lives are affected for the better. I enjoy development because for me its about finding ways that everyone can participate in changing lives…not just volunteers, not just donors, but finding a method that an individual can care about.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

I think the best tip I was ever given is to learn as much as I can about other fields and keep up with current trends. Not only does this make you much more interesting in general, it allows you to connect to your donors and board members in their world. We spend so much time talking about our organizations and our impact, essentially ourselves, then we don’t get into the real passion of our donors. If fundraisers can connect on that personal a level with the donor, it builds trust and respect.

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

I think the most frustrating thing for me about the profession is the constant effort to be seen as a professional position. I can’t count the number of times I have been at one of our special events and introduced myself as being from Big Brothers Big Sisters and within minutes been asked what my ‘real’ job is.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?

When I first started at BBBS in November I was going through a list of past donors and contacts that I should make a priority to visit in the first month. One that stood out is in upper management with a large national bank located in Kansas City. She had been a personal supporter of our agency, but also is involved with the corporate giving. I took her to lunch in the first month I was on the job as an introduction, get to know you meeting. When we got to the part of lunch where I would ask how I could approach them for an end of the year gift and if they had room in the budget, she cut me off and said, “We would like to give you a grant for $13,000, could you submit a proposal to me by the end of the day tomorrow?” Obviously I could, but I left laughing because I haven’t experienced this since and think it will be the rare occasion, but no less gratifying.

How do you help your CEO become a better fundraiser?

I think the most important thing I can do with our CEO to help him as a fundraiser is to provide him with plenty of info about people we will see at events. I try to remind him of where specific donors and future donors are in the pipeline of our visiting and their knowledge of BBBS. He sees a ton of people and at our events has been very hands on. I try to remind him the day of who to make sure and see and also let him know conversations I have had that he should be knowledgeable about if a donor was to bring it up.


A New Kind of Philanthropy

March 31, 2008

Sometimes I am frustrated by the idea of what is known today as “Philanthropy” or “Fundraising.” The unspoken definition of these words is “asking for money from wealthy people.” I think that is misleading and misinterpreted. In some ways the modern day idea of philanthropy exists because of the gap of wealth between the top 1% and the rest of the world.

But I would like to suggest that philanthropy and fundraising are for people of all ages and wealth demographics. It is all about relationships with people and wanting to make a difference. I have been amazed by how much change one person can make if they concentrate on their community of friends and a compelling idea.

I think that people today want to tell there friends about the needs in the world and want to give of their money but they feel like their circle of friends and their “small” donations can’t really make a difference. I want to suggest that with many organizations (like the ones you’ve seen on my Org of the Month) you can make a huge difference as an every day person. A ten dollar donation goes a long way with an organization like SEDA, Epic Change, or Wellspring.

In todays technology world sometime just telling the story or voting for an organization can provide significant gifts. Think about the recent competition on Ideablob or the 2007 America’s Giving Challenge. Those ideas are supported by the every day person that take a few seconds to vote or give a few dollars.

What can we do?
• Leave a comment below with your idea
• Join the conversation on the A Small Change Facebook Group
• Check out one of the Orgs of the Month and offer to help out

More from Epic Change

March 19, 2008

I hope you had the chance to visit the Ideablob website to help out Epic Change in their competition. Check out yesterday’s post for more information on Epic Change.
If your non-profit is interested in becoming an Org of the Month download the sign-up form and send it to

What sector do you raise money for and how is that different from raising money in another sector?

While right now, we’re working on an education project in the developing world, the Epic Change approach may be adopted across many sectors: we may eventually fund a health, poverty, art or other type of project. Let’s call the segment we focus on the “social innovation” sector. For us, these are primarily donors who feel that traditional charitable models have been ineffective and others who feel that they’ve been excluded from charitable giving because they didn’t feel they could personally give enough to make a difference. To appeal to this group, we’ve focused our fundraising efforts on two key ideas:

Partner Empowerment: I believe the reason social entrepreneurship and social innovation have become such popular ideas recently is because many people are starting to believe that traditional models of giving haven’t yielded great – or sustainable – results. A parent of one of the children at the school we’re building in Tanzania once said, “If you tell a man he is weak, he will be weak; if you tell a man he is poor, he will be poor.” And yet, many charities seem to do just that by employing fundraising models that foster long-term relationships of direct dependency that, in my opinion, serve to perpetuate and reinforce an implicit sense of inequality. At Epic Change, we believe that local leaders possess the strength, power and resources (i.e., their stories) to improve their own lives and communities – and even to improve other communities in need elsewhere on the globe. Every relationship we enter into between a donor and an Epic Change partner has an exit strategy that’s based on our partners’ (i.e., loan recipients’) development of their own stories into sustainable sources of non-charitable income. Our donors like the idea that their contribution yields a long-term solution rather than a short-term band-aid or, worse yet, and endless cycle of continued dependency on charitable contributions.

Ultimately, social innovators are interested in our longer-term strategy to eventually avoid the “donation” model altogether; the Epic Change approach is based on the entrepreneurial hypothesis that eventually we’ll be able to raise funds to support our projects primarily through sales of storytelling products and loan repayments rather than traditional donations. We see our current donors as start-up investors and, hopefully, future consumers of Epic Change products.

Donor Empowerment: Unlike fundraising efforts in many sectors, so far we’ve put minimal emphasis on large gifts (though that would be nice!) and are really trying to cultivate a broad base of small donors/investors who can give to our cause with their time and energy as well as their financial contributions. We try to keep these donors engaged by constantly connecting their contributions directly to the impact of their gifts through stories in our blog and email communications. We also provide them with as many opportunities as we can to get directly involved in our efforts, and tools they can use and adapt themselves to spread the word as friendraisers – like YouTube videos they can circulate via email and widgets they can deploy on their own social networking sites. I’ve seen Nirvan Mullick at The One Second Film call this concept “micro-collaboration,” the process by which “many people to work together in lots of little ways to collectively create something bigger than we could alone.” This idea definitely seems to resonate with our base.

Any pointers for organizations in your area that help non-profit professionals?

LinkedIn has been a really helpful tool for connecting with great advice on several topics about which I’ve had questions. There’s a broad network there of non-profit and for-profit professionals who have, in my experience, been really receptive to questions I’ve asked, and provided me with great answers and references to a range of helpful resources. I actually met Jason, the host of this blog, on LinkedIn. Because we’re located in a small town in Florida, I’ve found limited resources in my own geographic area, but more than plenty using online social networking tools.

Do you have any problems or questions that you would like to ask for answers from the philanthropic community?

As I mentioned, it’s only been six months since we received our 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. While I have some experience in grantwriting, we’ve been waiting to approach granting organizations until we’ve demonstrated some success so that they’ll really take our request seriously. Just last week, the doors opened to a school we funded in Tanzania – in only three months since we provided our original loan, a significant accomplishment that I believe provides some insight into the potential of our organization. At what point do you believe a new non-profit is ready to make the leap into applying for grants? Are you aware of any granting organizations that may be particularly applicable to our mission and stage of development, or our current project in Tanzania?

Org of the Month: Epic Change

March 18, 2008

This month’s Org of the Month is Epic Change. This non-profit is a pioneer in online fundraising and has a lot of really great things to say. Below is a short YouTube video about the organization.

Help Epic Change right now. Visit Ideablob where Epic Change is competing to win $10,000. Vote on the Ideablob site for Epic Change to help them win.

What is your non-profit about? And what areas do you serve?

Epic Change helps hopeful people in need share their “epic” true stories in innovative, creative and profitable ways to help them acquire the financial resources they need to create positive “change” in their communities. We use donations to provide interest-free loans to local grassroots leaders to finance their community improvement efforts. We then facilitate loan repayment by collaborating with our partners to share their stories through products that generate income. Finally, we “pay it forward” by recycling repaid loans to help fund Epic Change in other communities. Our first project is focused on rebuilding and expanding a primary school in Arusha, Tanzania.

What are the major fundraising programs you have?

Our 501(c)(3) status was approved only about six months ago, and so far we’ve raised nearly $40,000, primarily through small individual gifts made online from our families, friends and colleagues. These gifts have been enabled through the use of a suite of online tools from Network for Good and Facebook to Care2 and LinkedIn. We recently won a $1,000 grant from the Case Foundation and raised over $6,000 in about three weeks through our successful participation in America’s Giving Challenge; we were in the top 5% of nearly 500 participating US-based nonprofits. We always have our eyes out for interesting opportunities; we’re participating in the Ideablob competition right now and we’re submitting an entry to the NetSquared MashedUp contest as well.

While our next steps are to cultivate local fundraising chapters from our current list of supporters, and to reach out to corporate donors and granting organizations for additional seed money, we’re hoping that in the next 3-5 years, we’ll be able to generate the majority of our income through loan repayments and the sales of Epic Change products based on the stories of the people we serve.

What geographic area does your charity serve and where is it located?

Epic Change is a registered 501(c)(3) located in Florida. While our first project is located in Arusha, Tanzania, our next project location is unknown. We imagine that the repayment of our original loan to a school in Tanzania may, for example, eventually fund a clinic in Peru, an orphanage in Eastern Europe or even a program for the homeless in the US. So, the impact of donations to Epic Change are not limited to a particular geographic region.

Any tips on how to approach donors in your area?

Actually, given what we’ve learned so far, and the premise on which our entire model is based, I believe the best way to approach donors in any area is with a detailed, well-told story that personally connects potential donors to your cause, which echoes recent research by Wharton marketing professor Deborah Small. That said, I believe there’s a delicate balance to be played when telling stories to generate interest and encourage donorship. Most non-profits also have compelling stories of happiness, transformation and hope to share. It seems to me that hope and inspiration may be more powerful tools in cultivating potential donors than fear, guilt and sadness.

For one example, check out this story about Glory, a 9-year-old girl who attends the school we’re building in Tanzania. While her incredibly difficult situation is presented realistically, the story is primarily one of optimism and hope. Glory’s story was taken from a blog entry I wrote during our last trip to Tanzania. To me, a blog that’s updated frequently is the single best way to keep donors involved in the story of your organization and the impact of your work. Of course, for donors who aren’t RSS feeders, blog entries can serve as the basis for emails or mailings as well.

Read more tomorrow from Epic Change.