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Arts & Science Council eyes donors

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Amy Tribble

Amy Tribble

Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Amy Tribble joined the Council for Children’s Rights in 2002 as its first full-time director of development, her task was to build the organization’s development program.

At the time, the organization operated with an annual budget of $500,000, with United Way of Central Carolinas providing well over half of the funds.

Today, the organization operates with an annual budget of $2.5 million, with only 11 percent from United Way.

The key to generating that big increase in contributions, says Tribble, was being “very strategic and very intentional and sincere about how you craft a meaningful experience for your supporters.”

That will be same approach Tribble plans to take at the Arts & Science Council in her new job as vice president of resource development.

The organization, she says, is “looking to reposition itself for success in response to a changing Charlotte, to the economy, to change in workplace giving, to the fact there’s a lot of competition for donor attention and donor dollars.”

The Arts & Science Council is in the midst of its two-month annual fund drive, which ends March 25 and aims to raise $8.3 million. As of Feb. 24, it had raised $4.2 million.

Tribble says her fundraising philosophy is that “it’s all about the donor.”

A key goal, she says, will be to develop, initiate and spearhead a “donor-focused” program that will “build more genuine strategic and long-term partnerships” with the organization’s 30,000 donors.

The Council for Children’s Rights “made sure there was a strategy in place that allowed us to learn about our donors, about their wants and desires,” says Tribble, who also just began a term as president of the Charlotte chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“An organization that depends on the public for support really needs to share with that public how critical they are to the organization’s success,” she says. “Without donors, no nonprofit organization is ever going to succeed. So it’s imperative you never take that group of people for granted, that you tell them about their impact, and that you thank them.”

To help do that, she says, every communication a nonprofit has with its donors should not necessarily be to ask for support but rather “to tell them how you’re using what they gave you.”

Donors also want to “have a meaningful experience with organizations they choose to support,” Tribble says.

To address donors’ needs, for example, the Council for Children’s Rights created the Voices for Children Society, a group that honored donors who were giving $1,000 or more a year.

The goal of the group was to keep donors “in the loop about what was going on at the agency, what impact their gifts were having,” Seymour says.

The organization invited donors to an annual appreciation lunch, and arranged personal visits with the executive director.

In addition to building on that approach, the Arts & Science Council also plans this year to launch an online platform that will let donors find out about and contribute to specific cultural organizations, a process that also will help the council better understand its donors’ interests.

And the organization will be looking for new ways to reach donors outside the workplace.

“There’s a lot of opportunity,” Tribble says, “to get out in the community and get more people involved in the vitality that the Arts & Science Council brings to the community.”

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