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Organizations thrive on finding new donors

Posted March 17, 2016 in Articles

Author: Carlo Wolff, Cleveland Jewish News

Leveraging an organization’s existing network, events that attract prospective donors and ongoing programs bring in the new money organizations need to continue benefiting the community, according to spokesmen for Menorah Park, Cleveland Clinic and the Mandel Jewish Community Center.

All stressed the value of their organizations, saying the ways they execute their respective missions help bring in new financial blood.

Joel Fox, executive director of the Menorah Park Foundation in Beachwood, said family members so appreciate the services the long-term care facility provides their elders that they often donate when a staff member follows up. In addition, board members who act as ambassadors to the community encourage their friends and associates to become involved.

“Many board members actually haven’t had loved ones on our campus but they’re introduced to our work and choose it because somebody asked them to get involved and they become donors, supporters and potential leaders that way,” Fox said.

“We’re fortunate to be a large service provider and we have a great opportunity to find donors and supporters from among the many, many people whom we actually serve … Some social service agencies that serve people who are poor or suffer with disabilities may not be able to go to their clients at all. It’s the clients who rely on the generosity of others who don’t need to be clients of those services. We understand and appreciate the fact that we’re very fortunate that we can go to the families that we serve.”

Gratitude also rules at Cleveland Clinic, where Bridget Andrews is senior director of development operations. Patients grateful for its services often become donors who “give back and make a donation to make sure” the clinic’s quality of care continues, she said.

“Another way we have seen new donors giving to Cleveland Clinic is through what we call peer-to-peer fundraising, which is friends asking friends to join them in supporting the clinic,” she said. “An example of that would be a community fundraising event. Another example is VeloSano, a two-day cycling event July 30 and July 31 which raises money for cancer research at the clinic.”

This will be the third VeloSano, and each one draws in new cyclists, Andrews said.

Those are “good ways in which donors are contributing to Cleveland Clinic. New patients do come in on a daily basis, and again, when they receive that world-class care they’re very grateful and they decide to make a contribution.”

Two years ago, the Mandel JCC in Beachwood created a “case statement” explaining the needs for funding and philanthropic support, said Karen Bain Hiller, director of fund development. Most Mandel JCC donors are local, and in meeting with potential ones the organization’s representatives always focus on “meeting their personal and philanthropic goals,” she said.

Hiller added she is looking forward to May 1, when the Mandel JCC will present its first annual fundraising event. “All members as well as non-members who have supported various programs (Cleveland Jewish Book Festival, Cleveland Jewish Film Festival, Playmakers, etc.) have been invited to this fun event. It is an opportunity for us to showcase our programs and building while raising funds to support our financial assistance program,” she wrote in an email.

The underlying notion for all these organizations is that of the virtuous circle.

“The Mandel JCC uses every means available to connect to new donors, including through existing ones,” Hiller said. “Working with current donors to help identify new donors serves a dual purpose. First, those donors can help tell our story through their experiences, helping to grow the base of support. Second, it shows the current donors that their input is important and valued.”

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