Training Camp Takes Fear out of Fundraising

 As the second deployment of our Nonprofit Recovery and Resilience Fund, this summer we awarded 10 child-serving charitable organizations with weeklong training in building fundraising capacity. In this article, the Megan Meier Foundation shares how it gained a new perspective and approach to fundraising after attending the workshop.

Tina Meier had no clear vision of the future when she started the Megan Meier Foundation in 2007; she only knew that she wanted to honor the legacy of her daughter by preventing another family from enduring the same pain. Megan had been the victim of cyberbullying by an adult neighbor posing as a teenage boy, which resulted in her taking her own life at the age of 13. The Megan Meier Foundation was founded to “create a world where bullying and cyberbullying no longer exist,” says Meier, who serves as the organization’s executive director. Today, the organization offers mental health counseling, family support and resources, and prevention and intervention programs.

Photo: Megan Meier Foundation

“It took us time to figure out the best ways for us to make an impact, and it’s been phenomenal to see how much we’ve grown and matured,” she says. Still, she was questioning, “how do we get to the next level?”, when she learned of the YouthBridge Annual Fund Training Camp. After a “painless” application process, she learned that her foundation, along with nine others, had been selected to participate in a five-day workshop through Let’s Build Hope, a fundraising consulting firm led by Linda Haley.

Meier attended each day with her director of development and says her Board president and treasurer were able to participate in specific sessions. “I’ve been through development workshops and trainings before, but they were not even close to this one. It was unbelievable, mind-changing,” she says.

Meier says she and her team walked away with a better bird’s-eye view of the foundation’s fundraising program, as well as specific steps for improvement. “They gave us tools for evaluating the value of our current strategies and see where we may be spinning our wheels.” As an example, they were able to eliminate about 45% of “very time consuming” grants they have been applying for year after year without success, she says.

Additionally, Meier says they identified opportunities they may be missing. One miss, she says, has been in communicating with small donors. “We have so many individuals that are passionate about our mission, but we’ve never wanted to ‘hound them’ with too many communications. The trainers helped us see that these donors have expressed an interest through their giving, so we have to let them know how valued they are by keeping them ‘in-the-know’ and giving them opportunities to stay involved.”

The “ask” has always been her biggest pain point, says Meier. “I realized after talking with the consultants that I had to take my fear – myself – out of the equation when making an ask, because it’s not about me, but about the foundation and offering people the chance to be part of it.” At the end of the workshop, Meier was able to practice her newfound courage when Linda Haley told the group they could “ask her for anything” and she was the only one to speak up.

“I asked if we could meet for coffee and talk some more,” says Meier. She plans to engage the firm for further training, including a separate workshop for her Board.

If you would like to donate or have any questions about this organization, please contact Allison McDonald.