AmeriCorps VISTA Stephanie Adams’ work at Christian Community Action (CCA) in Lewisville, TX has included submitting grants to the Hillcrest, Harry W. Bass, Celanese, and Kohl foundation as well as the Bank of the Ozarks. If granted funding from each of these foundations Stephanie’s work could provide Christian Community Action’s comprehensive programs and services with $32,500 to continue providing relief to its clients in crisis. CCA’s programs include food and financial assistance, life skills and job readiness training, as well as spiritual care and counseling to approximately 4,000 community members in need. The grants written to the Hillcrest and Harry W. Bass foundation could potentially provide funding for CCA’s Food Assistance program and help CCA purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as household and hygiene products.
Cornerstone Ranch, located in McKinney, TX, is a unique home and day program for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. In late November, Cornerstone Ranch began working with a development consultant to design and implement a strategic fundraising plan for the end of 2017 and 2018. The first step was to craft a year-end direct mail appeal targeting various segments of donors and prospects to consider an end-of-year gift. For the past two years, Cornerstone Ranch has maintained approximately 2000 names and address in their database, but not donation information. Donations have been stored in QuickBooks and various event-related spreadsheets. For this reason, it was a very difficult and time-consuming process to segment donors into major donors, mid-level donors, event donors, general donors, and lapsed donors, as was needed for the appeal. VISTA member Martha Tonn took the information that was compiled from various sources and sorted out the donors into the appropriate categories, taking the time to check and re-check for errors and duplications. While one large group of constituents was sent to a mailing house for processing, the smaller groups, totaling approximately 500 letters in six different segments were printed and processed in-house to save on costs. The appeal was successfully mailed in early December and resulted in donations of $37,275. These funds support the Day Program activities and operating costs for Cornerstone Ranch where the residents and day program participants learn new skills, and reach their highest level of independence, as active participants in grocery shopping, home care, meal preparation and personal grooming. They can also be found volunteering at local nonprofits and making contributions to their communities.
Marketing and Fundraising VISTA Maegan Shafer is serving with Denton Christian Preschool, a non-profit day care serving at-risk 3-and 4-year olds in Denton, TX. In September, Maegan successfully coordinated with University of North Texas service groups to promote and participate in Denton Christian Preschool’s Tamale Fundraiser being held in October. Maegan helped Denton Christian Preschool raise $10,000 through North Texas Giving Day, an annual on-line fundraising event. These funds will be used to continue programing for the children in their care. In addition she organized a campaign to raise funds for the new Stop Poverty Educate At-risk Kids (or SPEAK) initiative that focuses on providing the best opportunity for at risk children in the Denton community regardless of their situation by writing a $25,000 grant to Wells Fargo. Maegan also wrote a grant to the Denton Benefit League to purchase new computers and projectors.
AmeriCorps VISTA member, April Comperda, worked alongside Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF) Marketing and Development team to prepare for Taste for a Cause, DCFOF’s largest fundraising event of the year. April assisted with garnering in-kind donations for the silent auction. These donations had a total value of $14,000 and contributed to DCFOF raising over $75,000. In addition, April helped her agency raise $11,000 through North Texas Giving Day, an annual online fundraising event. April spread the word about the event through social media and attended a tabling event held on the Square in Denton. These funds will allow DCFOF to serve more clients by providing lifesaving services and programs to victims of sexual and domestic violence across Denton County. It’s the dollars that make the difference as $1,500 provides one week of emergency shelter for a mother and her two children and $1,000 provides one month of groceries for the entire shelter. Since January, DCFOF has been able to serve 1,302 new clients and because of events like Taste for a Cause and North Texas Giving Day, DCFOF is able to increase their capacity to help more and more.
Last month Hurricane Harvey caused financial challenges for Epilepsy Foundation Texas. The Foundation made sure every affected patient needing their medication received it at any cost to them. VISTA Rashika Smith made it her personal goal to double the in-kind donations from last year in order for the silent auction at the “Race on Over” fundraising event in November to be successful. The word “no” became a common word she heard but that one yes kept her motivated to reach for another yes. Thus far, Rashika has garnered 78 items for the silent auction for a total value of $41, 364. She was also able to network with different business to set up a fundraiser day, such as Kendra Scott Jewelry. Kendra Scott has agreed to not only donate jewelry for the auction but also set up a giving day (Oct. 20) where 20% of the money is donated back to the Foundation. Monies raised will help Epilepsy Foundation Texas provide medical services to patients with epilepsy, education to patients, families and the community and will help send children to summer camp.
In September 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Business Development Officer Melanie Cheney helped bolster her organization’s total fundraised amount from North Texas Giving Day on September 14th. Through careful strategizing and posing a fundraising challenge to the Board of Directors, Cheney successfully helped raise nearly $9,000 more in 2017 than her organization raised in 2016 (increasing the total amount fundraised from $28,000 to $37,000). The money she helped raise will go toward tuition scholarships for children from low-income backgrounds, in fulfillment of North Texas Performing Arts’ vision of making arts education accessible to all North Texas families. In addition, Melanie strengthened the agency’s existing database of potential local donors for our silent auction fundraisers by adding over 20 new donor businesses to the spreadsheet and garnered in-kind donations worth $3,200.
Hurricane Harvey shifted the dynamic in fundraising efforts for Epilepsy Foundation’s Community Outreach VISTA, Rashika Smith. The Dallas office took over the calls for the Houston clinic August 25, 2017. The Epilepsy Foundation wanted ensure the crisis would not have a big impact on patients receiving much needed medication. The calls Rashika received helped her understand how important funding is to keep the clinic open. Epilepsy Foundation staff worked with the doctors and pharmacies to make sure patients received their medication wherever they were. Rashika took on a personal challenge to increase the in-kind donation for our upcoming fundraiser in November, Race for the Cure. In August, Rashika sent out over 343 inquiries for donations and has received over 43 items so far with a value of $10,000. She has also helped secure sponsorships worth $38,000. The secured donations increase the likelihood the fundraiser will bring in more money than before.
In August 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Business Development Officer Melanie Cheney helped raise nearly $26,000 in matching funds to help motivate donors on North Texas Giving Day (September 14). By giving a presentation to the theatres’ Management Boards in July, Melanie secured donations from excited board members who are interested in raising as much money as possible on the day of the fundraiser. Her organization raised $28,000 total last year, so the fact that she was able to raise $26,000 in a matching fund alone, a month before the actual fundraiser, means that there is the potential to raise so much more this year.
In July 2017, AmeriCorps VISTA Melanie Kuriger helped create a fundraising plan for the massive community giving event, North Texas Giving Day. Intent on improving her Plano Children’s Theatre’s fundraising from the previous year, she helped devise a plan to pool Board members’ donations into a matching fund, which will be used to motivate donors during the event. She created a slideshow and pitched her ideas to the Managing Boards for each of the theatres in her organization and for the Governing Board. She was met with excitement and enthusiasm and anticipates 100% Board participation.
When running a race and you see the finish line, people have a way of pushing harder and finishing as strong as they can. The month of June was no different for the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. This was the month to make every fundraiser and in-kind donation matter because it was the start of Camp! Epilepsy Foundation-Texas host three camps and send over 325 kids to camp for free. On average, the cost to send one kid to camp is $1,200. Community Outreach VISTA, Rashika Smith was responsible for obtaining in-kind donations of water and snacks for participants for two events which took place in west Texas. The Lubbock Landmark Lope, a 5k trail run at the Lubbock Lake Landmark and Sharon’s Ride. Walk. Run in Amarillo raised $22,876.57 which will support medical and educational service provided by the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. The final June fundraiser brought the heat, sweat, and money. The Cornament was an entertaining and unique event featuring a cornhole tournament, side games, entertainment, beverages and food. Rashika obtained in-kind donations of gift cards worth over $1,040, to be used for prizes for participants. During the event a parent spoke about how the camp provided a place for their kid to be a kid and how no other camp was willing to give the child a chance to attend because of their medical condition. Over 100 people attended the Cornament and raised $29,412 which will send approximately 24 children to camp at no cost!