September 6, 2007
John Zitzner, Founder & President
Elaine Turley, Development Officer, Foundation
We are well into our second year as I type this, and I believe we are now hitting on the most important work that we will do together- work that maybe we should have addressed right away, but didn’t have the courage to address, or the shared history and trust to address. However, as requested, I will reflect on the work we did together in our first year.
The most important aspect of the first year was the effort that SVP placed in Fund Development/ Marketing. SVP volunteers gave considerable time in planning meetings and in hands-on activities to help us evaluate and modify our annual awareness breakfast. They encouraged us to see its “power” in reaching people on an emotional level, and they encouraged us to see that we could use that event to raise a significant amount of money. We had been afraid of making that transition, from a “feel good” event to one at which we ask for donations. The outside perspective of SVP volunteers was invaluable– many of them have vast experience as attendees at fundraisers, and all are generous donors who were candid about why they give. In the context of this project (the breakfast event) all of them took very thoughtful time to learn about us as motivated individuals and to understand the history of E CITY, and then they held up what is special and encouraged us to capitalize on it. Many SVP volunteers gave valuable assistance in the training of E CITY students for the roles they were to play at our breakfast, and many SVP volunteers were there that day, to take leadership roles in directing and supporting the students. Never did we feel a SVP volunteer “shy away” from us or our students. All came in a spirit of generosity and celebration, but with deep, well-considered constructive advice.
As a result of SVP’s help, the E CITY Annual Awareness Breakfast moved from bringing in $10,000 to bringing in $30,000, to bringing in more than $43,000. Equally as important, SVP is teaching us how to work with volunteers (them!) and how to trust in other’s expertise; how to delegate and welcome new energies. Even though our management “knows” that a nonprofit will not grow without an ever-expanding base of volunteers, until SVP became involved, we didn’t live that belief with integrity. We didn’t trust that anyone could or would give 100% to something we needed them to do. We understand now that we can be much better at fulfilling our mission when we welcome other’s involvement openly. We believe this is a valuable lesson, and anticipate that it is a turning point for a nonprofit- when we need to let go of some control and of the way things always have been, if we are truly committed to our mission.