The Director of Redstone Marketing asks three
nonprofit executives for their perspectives.
Philanthropy Manager, First Step
First Step is a grassroots organisation providing addiction, mental health and legal services for over 1800 people a year from one team, at one site, for free. We receive no state government funding to deliver our health services and rely on philanthropy to provide care to our unfunded clients, fill the funding gaps, and support innovation and growth.
My role was funded by Gandel Foundation and Wheelton Philanthropy for three years to develop and deliver a strategy that creates sustainable, diversified philanthropic funding streams and to meaningfully engage with supporters.
I am halfway through my tenure, which has been shadowed by the pandemic.
I’m not a typical Philanthropy Manager. As is often the case in grassroots organisations, staff wear many hats to optimise the precious budget dollar, and I am no different.
I am part of First Step’s Leadership Team, bringing a careers’ worth of experience, insight and judgement from the not-for-profit sector. We are commencing our strategic planning process and I am encouraging the team, and board, to explore how we can finance our mission for the longer term and ensure philanthropy’s weighting is balanced and realistic.
I also spend considerable time speaking to staff and clients about taking a strengths-based approach to our storytelling, to reduce stigma and ensure we do not disempower the very people we are trying to lift.
First Step had a very small, mostly unengaged supporter base and my focus has been on building our brand and our voice. From this I have developed a strategic communications program which includes an active social media presence, quarterly newsletters, an onboarding program and 12-month email series for subscribers and donors, redevelopment of our website content and a thought leadership event. And we have recently commenced a partnership with a digital marketing agency which has been a steep learning curve for me!
Alongside this, we launched a range of fundraising initiatives including the First Step Gift Shop, inaugural Giving Day and multi-channel bi-annual appeals.
All this activity creates a platform for our supporters to make a difference, it lets our clients know that they matter, and it allows us to remain neutral, values driven and responsive to the needs of the community. Philanthropy is the connector that brings this all together.
MIKAELA BARKER Development Coordinator, The Water Well Project
Hi! My name is Mikaela and I am the Development Coordinator at The Water Well Project, a health promotion not-for-profit that delivers free, interactive health education sessions to communities from migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds facilitated by volunteer healthcare professionals. In this role, I am responsible for grants, fundraising, and other opportunities to grow and develop our organisation.
My day always starts with catching up. I work at The Water Well Project part-time, so when I return on Mondays there’s a mountain of emails to read through. Most of our team are volunteer healthcare professionals and their correspondence tends to happen outside business hours, so there’s a lot to catch up on!
We have a staff meeting at 9am, so I start early to get up to speed before jumping on Zoom. These meetings are a great opportunity to share our progress, even though our team is working remotely. As much as I love sharing a successful grant application or fundraising goal, it’s also awesome to hear what’s happening in our health education sessions and troubleshoot issues about project delivery together.
Next, I check the online donations that have come through over the weekend. Our donors receive an automated thank you email and donation receipt, but I like to send donors a personal email and update our spreadsheets to track our progress towards our goals.
Since it’s January, there aren’t too many grant applications to work on (a few months ago, writing was taking up about 90% of my time). I’m using this quiet period to complete some desktop research and update our grant application templates to save time for future applications to ensure our answers are strong and compelling.
I finish my day by dedicating some time to our 2022 fundraising strategy. This year we’re hoping to launch a regular giving program, as well as some bigger digital campaigns later in the year. I draft some emails or social media posts and pass them to our volunteer communications team. Next Monday morning there will be exciting updates in my inbox as l prepare for an exciting year ahead!
My role at The Australian Ballet School (ABS) is Director of Development. I started in December 2019 just prior to the pandemic, so consequently have worked from home more than I have been in the office! I have built my team and development strategy to raise income and increase the profile of the organisation predominately via Zoom. I drive the fundraising strategy and oversee communications and marketing in my small team.
A day in the ABS development team often starts with a morning Zoom catch up, which is an opportunity to connect and check in on a personal level and ensure that we are on track with the various activities, whether it be writing grant applications or working on upcoming donor engagements, social media, or designing invitations and preparing guest lists for upcoming performances. We keep our eyes on various funding opportunities. We often discuss and plan upcoming campaigns and share ideas for telling stories and keeping our donors informed and engaged in what we are doing. Like all fundraising teams, we always endeavour to provide avenues for our donors to further develop their relationship with The Australian Ballet School.
The most satisfying and joyful part of my day is when I am able to connect with our donors, particularly when we are able to host donors at the School to see first-hand what we do and how we do what we do. Providing the chance to really demonstrate to donors the impact that access to training at a world-class classical dance school has on our amazing students is a real highlight of my role. Our supporters truly do play an important role in the future of dance in Australia.