May 29, 2019

Nonprofit leaders in Brooklyn share donor engagement strategies

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On Thursday, May 23, 2019, GiveSmart hosted the first ‘Brooklyn Brainstorm’ at our office in New York City. We brought together members of New York’s nonprofit community to discuss ways to engage donors all year long. 

“Give them an experience they wouldn’t otherwise get.”
– Deborah

Fresh baked cookies, live music, and learning? Yes, please.  

We kicked off Brooklyn Brainstorm with drinks, appetizers, and sweet sounds of the handpan by Dan Mulqueen as everyone mingled throughout the kitchen and living room area at Bond Collective. It was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic people ready to take on the next generation of fundraising 

The topic of the evening? Ways to keep your donors engaged with your mission for 365 days out of the year, not just event day or night. Our Director of Client Services, Eric Anderson, facilitated the panel discussion.   

Nonprofits do incredible work, and it’s important to use one another as resources! Below are some takeaways from the evening:  

  • Experiment! Change the model of your events, add alcohol, engage a different population. Whatever you do, it’s important to try new things and set aside some of your fundraising budget for testing new ideas.
  • Be creative. It’s not sustainable to rely on one event for most of your revenue, so think of other ways to pull in donors. What are your donors passionate about? Perhaps something like hosting a fashion show at someone’s house, or opening the farm for work hours followed by farm-to-table dinner, will allow you to connect in new, deeper ways with constituents.
  • Use resources in your area. Looking for volunteers or interns? Try your local high schools and colleges! Most students are required to give some amount of community service or intern hours, so bring them on board.

    “You need to ask for what you need help with.”
    – Sasha

  • Time, tribe, and talent. Ask for more than money! Ask donors for their time, their interests, their networks, their expertise, their ideas. Honor the people who will bring you the 3 Ts!
  • Constant contact. Know everything about your constituents. Ask as many questions as you can. When you ask for contact information, ask for their interests. Keep in touch with them.
  • Advocates. Find groups of your donors who raise awareness as well as funds. They are your diamonds.
  • Share good news. Talk about more than money. Share mission milestones, new hires, upcoming events, volunteer opportunities.

“Think about participation…that’s what’s key, to be inclusive, not how much they give.”
– Melissa

Thank you to those who spoke on our panel! Including:

Deborah Koenigsberger, Founder and President of Hearts of Gold
After a career in modeling and fashion, Deb was motivated by what could and should be in New York City, so she founded Hearts of Gold, which works relentlessly to break the cycle of homelessness. Her aim; to join forces with as many homeless and formerly homeless moms and their children as possible to “reimagine their futures together” and to maintain a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle

Sasha ThompsonDirector of Advancement + Individual Giving, Girl Scouts of Greater New York
Sasha currently manages the portfolio of individuals and family foundations to raise funds for leadership development programs that serve more than 31,000 girls across New York City. Sasha has worked in the past managing special events + strategic partnerships for Girl Scouts, event management for Transportation Alternatives, The Doe Fund, and several other nonprofits through consultancy work.

Melissa RitchieDirector of Institutional Advancement at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School
Brooklyn Heights Montessori School is a diverse community committed to educational excellence, serving students in preschool through grade 8. They have enjoyed a healthy year of fundraising, closing out a capital campaign, achieving their annual fund goals, and bringing back a successful benefit after a 4-year hiatus! Prior to Brooklyn Heights Montessori, Melissa was the Director of Advancement and Alumnae Affairs at The Hewitt School and holds a Masters in Nonprofit Management from Columbia Universit

Frank JulianoExecutive Director at Reeves-Reed Arboretum 

Alla LeventulLead Customer Success Manager and Event Guru for GiveSmart 


Stay tuned! We are planning another & hope to see you there…


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