If there’s a silver lining to be found in pandemic, it may be that bad situations can bring out the best in people—from acts of selflessness and courage to examples of adaptability and resourceful problem-solving. In this article, I’d like to spotlight and applaud just a few of the many examples of nonprofits that we work with here at Schultz & Williams and the solutions they’ve found to meet the unexpected challenges recent months have presented.
St. Joseph’s Preparatory School—Repositioning Their Annual Giving Program
The development team at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (“The Prep”) decided to designate their Prep Fund to a single compelling priority: financial aid and scholarships. Through their Prep Cares Fund Challenge, they raised $97,000 in a single day, part of a three-week mini-campaign. Following this, the spotlight shifted to the school’s annual online auction and then to the regularly scheduled end-of-fiscal-year giving campaign, both also now focusing on financial aid and scholarships and counted as part of the Prep Cares Challenge. As of June 30, the Challenge had brought in a total of $585,000, significantly surpassing the year’s original goal.
St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Los Angeles—Meeting Record Need with Record Support
Faced with an increased demand for services—more than 2,500 new clients and growing—St. Vincent Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles, S&W’s oldest client (32 years!), appealed to its constituents, new and old, with an emergency campaign to raise money for food and equipment to address this rapid expansion. Donors understood the need and responded. To date, St. Vincent’s has raised more than $1.5 million. Read more about their inspiring efforts to feed homebound seniors here.
Fox Chase Cancer Center—Seeking Support Beyond the Financial
Fox Chase Cancer Center embraces a mission of treating not just the physical effects of cancer, but its emotional toll as well. When COVID restrictions intensified this toll—requiring many patients to undergo treatment alone—Fox Chase reached out to stakeholders to help. The institution called upon constituents and external audiences to send messages of support to patients receiving infusion services such as chemotherapy and radiation. The response was overwhelming—over 1,000 heartwarming messages were sent and more than $6,400 was raised from those who generously sent a gift with their message. Fox Chase is sharing the messages with patients to help brighten their cancer journeys. Read more about their fundraising efforts here.
Settlement Music School—Making a Virtual Gala a Memorable One
When the pandemic restrictions made live gala events impossible, Settlement Music School was among the first to face cancellation—and to pivot with remarkable success to a virtual celebration. The community school of the arts replaced the event it would have held at a center city hotel with an hour-long virtual gala, featuring uplifting student performances, celebrated event planner Fred Stein as emcee, and distinguished Settlement alumni such as Kevin and Michael Bacon as special guests. The event was not only well planned and produced, but also a wonderfully moving reminder of the power of music to heal and inspire. It was also a financial success, with nearly all the sponsors of the originally planned live event honoring their commitments.
International Campaign for Tibet—Powerfully Engaging Supporters
The International Campaign for Tibet created a beautifully simple—in fact, wordless—video which you can view here, expressing its gratitude to the many volunteers essential to its work. To help these and other stakeholders stay connected and active, it also launched a series of Tibet Talks, broadcast weekly and featuring engaging thinkers, leaders, activists, and artists. Perhaps most impressively, it replaced annual in-person Tibet Lobby Day plans scheduled for March in Washington, DC with a virtual event. This included a series of 83 highly successful Congressional phone meetings led by more than 150 Tibet Lobby Day participants, who were supported by the submission of more than 11,000 online petitions and over 100 generous gifts by ICT members. Learn more about this impressive day here.
The approaches these five organizations have taken are each smart and resourceful in different ways, but I think that together they teach a few important lessons:
- First, they show that fundraising success doesn’t happen in isolation. Organizations inspire donors when they fulfill their missions in inspiring ways.
- Second, donors step forward generously when they can clearly see a need that others are facing and a way to help.
- Third, nothing is more important than authenticity. When your real passion for your mission shows through, it becomes contagious—in a very healthy sense.
As we all work to do our best during trying circumstances, let’s also keep our eyes open for more of the many examples of people and organizations coping successfully. Their ideas can be uplifting—and applicable!