Fundraisers honor giving in tough times

Ely Jordfald
Ely Jordfald

Todd  Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — As nonprofits work to secure support in a recession that is fueling rising demand for services and greater stress on giving, fundraising professionals in the Triangle will gather on Nov. 12 to celebrate excellence in fundraising and philanthropy.

Hosted by the Triangle chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the luncheon event at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary will feature awards in seven categories to individuals and organizations.

The work of this year’s winners underscores the need for nonprofits in this tough economy to communicate more with their givers, make giving more inclusive and look for ways to be more innovative and collaborative, says Eli Jordfald, the chapter’s president and senior major gifts director at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the School of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A recent survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals found fund-development officers throughout the United States are reporting a 5.7 percent decline in giving this year, Jordfald says.

“We’re seeing that people are much more reluctant about making larger gifts,” she says. “The most important message here is what we’re all doing – going back to basics and applying best practices in keeping those donors engaged.”

So while the recession has made it a challenging year to raise money and major gifts, Jordfald says, it has been “a great year for reengaging our donors and involving them in ways perhaps we did not involve them before.”

Bert Armstrong, a founding partner at fundraising firm Armstrong McGuire & Associates and chair of the chapter’s committee that nominated candidates for the awards, says a big challenge for nonprofits is to balance short-term financial needs with “what is it long-term that will keep us sustainable and the best at what we do.”

The solution “goes back to maintaining relationships with donors,” he says.

Nonprofits, for example, are focusing less attention on strategies such as special events that “just reach out to raise dollars, and more attention to things that provide meaningful connection for the donor to the organization,” Armstrong says.

Jordfald says that means spending more time with donors and working to “tell our story better than ever.”

And even if donors are less likely to be making gifts in the current recession, she says, nonprofits should be visiting donors, thanking them and talking about their organizations “so when they are ready to give again, they’ll remember you.”

This year’s award-winners, screened by a committee of the chapter’s past presidents and selected by a panel of community leaders, co-chaired by philanthropist Mary Semans and Bill Friday, former president of the UNC System, include:

  • Outstanding Philanthropic Organization – InterAct.
  • Outstanding Fundraising Executive and Development Team — Joyce Mitchell-Antoine, chief development officer, and Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – the late Lewis R. Holding, founder, North Carolina Community Foundation.
  • Excellence in Philanthropy – Perry Colwell and Lloyd V. “Vic” Hackley.
  • Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser – Nancy and James I. Smith.
  • Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy – Jennifer and Michael Hodshon, and Nathan Woodward.

View National Philanthropy Day slideshow

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