Posted by Celina Stewart on December 28, 2017
Learning isn't always easy, but it's never dull. Since joining the FairVote team in the spring, I have learned a lot about our donors, even so not nearly enough. I learned the sources of donor gifts, what donors like about our work, and what inspires them to give. Again, the year of lessons. Some of the best lessons occurred in the most FUN way too. Yep, our 25th anniversary celebrations.
When I arrived we were gearing up for the formal introduction of the Fair Representation Act, FairVote’s signature reform proposal at the national level, and a celebration that day kicking off our 25th anniversary year. The energy was high and full of potential. And if I were completely honest, it was full of stress as I learned the bill, re-acquainted myself with friends on the Hill, and prepared for my first donor interactions. From organizing elected officials for press conferences and parties to ensuring the event went off without a noticeable hitch, it was fabulous. I walked away with a much clearer understanding that FairVote donors truly believe in our work, just as much as we do. And more importantly, they wanted to stand alongside us to celebrate each success and encourage the Executive Director and staff at all points between. However, the thought did cross my mind: is this a fluke?
That was June, now I'll fast forward to November in NYC for the 2017 Champions of Democracy Awards Reception. We were celebrating again but this time in a new city and with a new set of donors, yet this time I was ring leader. Preparation started in the summer for our reception. Even when you plan hundreds of events, planning your first event for a new organization is always a big deal. I had a new fellow, JP Thomas, to help and we hit the ground racing. From deciding on the award design and scheduling every minute of the program to deciding on the vittles and guest gifts, it was a lot of details and I was looking forward to another opportunity to observe our donors.
And observe, I did. While the lessons I learned during the process were similar to what I learned during our Hill event, the lessons had a new twist. Donors want more. More information, more touches, more stewardship, and I could not be more pleased. Why? Because my absolute favorite part of my job is that I get to interact with like-minded people.
That's why I want to take a moment and say thank you to our donors and supporters for the lessons. I heard you. Whether we met through a phone conversation, on the Hill or NYC, in passing or through our work together, I heard you and I cannot wait to act on the lessons I learned.
So, while this year I spent much of my time listening to the lessons, in 2018 I will be acting on what I heard you say. I encourage you to continue to keep in touch. Tell me how we can do better, where we can meet, and how you'd like to get more involved. If you're a talented artist and want to lend your art to our work, let's do it; if you're an IT guru wanting to help us elevate our technology, let's get it done, or if you want to visit our office and lend your skills, come on by.
I'll be listening and I'll be working on acing the action. And when you see me calling or bustling around, fret not. Know that what I most enjoy is talking to you and hearing from you. So until the next time happy holidays for now and cheers to the months to come!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.