February 3, 2015--My name is Venita, and I am an introvert. My first big job-related public speaking assignment was in front of a conference hall of about 1,800 people in Minneapolis, MN. I sweated profusely and my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. I drank a full pitcher of water during that hour-long presentation. After about ten minutes, the audience chuckled every time I picked up my water glass.
By the time I founded Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN), I was accustomed to public speaking, but I didn't like it any more than I previously had. In founding DCIN, I dreaded the fundraising part. I would have to talk or write to individuals, companies, and the Internet public to ask for donations or discounts to support DCIN's work. I called it "scrapping my knees," because I felt I was begging.
It surprised me that I quickly grew to enjoy nonprofit fundraising. That is because of the end game--helping extra-sweet kitties get the care they need. I believed in the DCIN mission, and when I saw people and companies donate, my confidence and determination for the process blossomed. I came to jokingly refer to my year-end fundraisers to close out underfunded campaigns as beg-a-thons, even though I no longer felt I was begging. Instead, I knew the donors were as committed to DCIN's mission as I was.
With fundraising I could be creative, something I didn't get from case management responsibilities. How was I going to "sell" a particular fundraiser? People would come to me with an offer of money for a fundraiser if I could raise a matching amount of funds. Last Easter, I raised votes/donations to "paint" Jack Abraham Resnick one of the traditional Easter colors. After a very successful fundraiser, I got joy by sending Jack a fluffy purple rabbit toy, to match the color most voters wanted him painted. (Jack was not injured by that fundraiser, and he loves his rabbit.)
DCIN has ongoing large-dollar fundraisers for mismatched sox, a calendar competition, and an annual online auction. Those quality products virtually sell themselves, but there are a lot of administrative chores. Volunteers step up to help and many hands make small work. DCIN's new Social Media Director is now helping with some of the visual side of promoting fundraisers on Facebook and elsewhere.
Besides cash fundraising, I have had to talk with the staff or owners at veterinary hospitals for rescue discounts when a client cat has a medical need. Many hospitals will offer 10-40% discounts immediately if I ask and document that DCIN is a 501c3 organization. Other hospitals need a bit of education about DCIN and what it does, and I am thrilled to "sell" them on our mission. DCIN often will get "repeat business" from those hospitals when they encounter another diabetic cat with a caregiver who cannot afford treatment. Sure, some hospitals will immediately answer "no," but I thank them kindly and move on. Again, the endgame is getting care for the cats. Being able to negotiate a 20% discount for a cat with a $2K bill saves the client or DCIN $400. Not at all shabby. On even larger bills, a discount may mean a cat gets life-saving care it wouldn't otherwise get.
Going forward, I hope DCIN will build a greater base of business/corporate donations. I have plenty of ideas about that I have written down over the years that I would love to share with a new fundraising director. DCIN friends email ideas all the time. Corporate fundraising will require coordination with the new DCIN Treasurer because most businesses with established giving programs want to see budget, historical financial, or performance data.
Please think about being DCIN's new fundraising (development) director. The position and process can bring joy to your life. The application for the position is at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwpbGEEvO1H9VEQwWG5MNFNJd28/view?usp=sharing.