Mark your calendars: September 20 kicks off the second annual Mohawk Valley Gives, a 24-hour community-wide giving day hosted by the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida counties. Last year, the initiative raised over $630,000 for Mohawk Valley nonprofits. When the results were in, the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts (MVCA) of Little Falls came in third out of over 150 organizations in terms of money raised. MVCA’s success with Mohawk Valley Gives came as a direct result of the efforts of its Executive Director, Mary Ellen McGillan. Raising money is nothing new to Mary Ellen, who has also served as Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California, Vice President of the Oregon State University Foundation and the Assistant Vice President for Development at the University of Notre Dame.
Read on for Mary Ellen’s tips on how your organization can maximize its impact during Mohawk Valley Gives.
Make A Match
While it might seem crucial to begin your Mohawk Valley Gives campaign by reaching out to as many potential donors as possible, it is equally important to build on the relationships your organization already has. According to Mary Ellen, partnering with an organization to do a match or challenge with your nonprofit for Mohawk Valley Gives incentivizes other donors to give even more. Last year, MVCA received a match from the UpMobility Foundation that Mary Ellen called instrumental in drumming up additional interest from other donors.
Embrace Social Media
In addition to posting about your organization’s participation in Mohawk Valley Gives on social media, Mary Ellen advises that you broaden your reach by asking board members and friends of your organization to post about Mohawk Valley Gives on their own accounts. If you need extra help, the Community Foundation offers Mohawk Valley Gives participants a social media toolkit that includes templates (and email templates) to help solicit your board and other volunteers for support. Mary Ellen used these “really good” templates for MVCA’s campaign last year.
Put Donors First
One of the best ways to establish relationships with donors for Mohawk Valley Gives or any other fundraiser is to practice what Mary Ellen calls “stewardship for donors.” In addition to thanking your donors for contributing to your campaign, you should also provide them with detailed updates regarding how their support has made a difference to your organization. This attention makes donors feel more invested in the future of your organization and more likely to keep giving.
Looking for some extra support and community as your organization starts its Mohawk Valley Gives journey? MVCA and the Little Falls Library will be holding a Mohawk Valley Gives kickoff event at the Little Falls Library on September 19th from 4-7 pm. No advance sign-up is required.