Fundraising Meets PR

By Eden Youngberg

PRSSA really outdid themselves with the first-ever fundraising panel, which consisted of four local fundraisers, a great networking opportunity and an engaging Q&A session.

Debbie Green, the Director of Development at the University of Iowa Foundation acted as the moderator for the panel, asking scripted questions constructed by the PRSSA executive board, followed by questions from the audience. The panel also consisted of Kate Metcalf, the Executive Director of Development at the University of Iowa Foundation, Sue Hawn, President of Mercy Medical Center Foundation, and Michele Brock, Regional Fundraising and Marketing Adviser at Amperage.


Pictured left to right is Michele Brock, Sue Hawn, Kate Metcalf, and Debbie Green

Pictured left to right is Michele Brock, Sue Hawn, Kate Metcalf, and Debbie Green

If you’re interested in fundraising, then congrats because the job market for fundraisers is wide open. Being a fundraiser is not something most people start off being, in fact, it’s almost always a back up plan as we learned from the fundraising panel. Each member of the panel started with other positions, graduating with degrees in Journalism and Mass Communications and Communication Studies.

Two of the biggest components of fundraising are cultivating relationships and being an effective communicator. There are many different ways to connect donors to the mission of your organization. Developing close relationships with donors allows them to become passionate about the mission of your organization and in turn, feel compelled to give to your organization. One-on-one meetings are crucial when developing relationships with potential major donors because of the amount of the gift you are going to ask them to give, whereas direct mail and invitations to events are great methods of fundraising to annual donors. Being aware of the category in which your donor falls is an important aspect to remember before soliciting.

One of the scariest parts of fundraising is the “ask”, but having that close knit relationship with the donor alleviates a lot of the tension, as well as the fact the donor knows that the “ask” is coming, The fact the donor decided to sit down with you pretty much confirms that they are willing to give a gift, the panel informed us, so don’t let the solicitation aspect of fundraising scare you away. And if you do get a “no”, respect that.

While individual dollars are increasing, donor retention continues to be an ongoing problem, which has a lot to do with this generation’s mindset. Today, people want to give to causes, not organizations. Knowing this fact, fundraisers have to change their methods of fundraising to the evolving generation. Overall, the panel gave great insight into the fundraising world.