In a few weeks, I'm honored to be joining with several other speakers that will be talking about the value of Storytelling as it relates to fundraising - this is a program sponsored by the Florida Public Relations Association. For those that may be interested; here's the link: https://www.fpraswfl.org/nonprofit-day-the-art-of-distanced-storytelling/
With Storytelling so much on my mind I was thinking back to my first fundraising job - I was hired to launch a fundraising program at the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in New York City. I always felt you couldn't ask for a better first job in this field. The aged are, in my humble opinion deserving of the most but sadly from a charitable perspective, often get the least - and I'm not just talking money, I'm talking about respect. But we'll go. there another time. I felt like if I could raise money here well, I could do it anywhere.
My mission, if I was to accept it (and I did) was to get potential donors excited about supporting the nursing home. What was working in our favor is that we truly had a built in constituency - not just family members but community members. The nursing home was in the exciting and vibrant East Village - Alphabet City. It was positioned at the end of the block that was surrounded by interesting restaurants, a transitioning neighborhood and all kinds of new people getting involved in the area. By the way, if you ever saw the movie Beaches, our nursing home was on the same block where Cece Bloom (Bette Middler's character) lived in her early struggling days. All this and trivia too!
Storytelling - although I wasn't thinking this at the time - was the way that we reinvented the image of a nursing home from a sad place where people spend their final years to a next home where amazing people, with incredible stories, went to share their gifts with others....
One of our residents was an artist who had done a portrait of John F. Kennedy. Some of the nursing staff asked if he would contribute new art for the stain glassed windows in the chapel. We even had this special artist design t-shirts for what was to become our annual block party fundraiser. His art career re-invigorated him to the point where his health improved. He even began to go home for short periods to spend time with family.
This was just one of many stories that became the drivers of a campaign that brought in nearly $500,000 for a nursing home that hadn't raised money before. I share this not to highlight me but to highlight the incredible residents that were willing to share their stories, wisdom and courage. It was beautiful to see. The fundraising was the helpful spillover effect of this new perspective on senior living.
There's more to come both here and in the program. Most importantly, I hope this quick story can help inspire your creativity and get you sharing your stories of transformation.
And have a great weekend!