Monday, April 25, 2011

Engaging Members Through Generosity

This April 20 blog post on Donor by Design spotlights our April 5 Walk a Mile in Our Shoes events throughout the Triangle. Bruce Bergland is president of the professional services firm that works for not-for-profit organizations.

Board and member engagement are two topics that I am asked about almost every day. We all agree that there is great philanthropic potential in our membership. After all, these are the people who regularly access our facilities, our programs and should be most closely connected to our mission.

As member engagement increases, so does our fundraising. Consider asking your members to live beyond themselves and partner with your Y to help another agency doing great work. What? Help another not-for-profit? I can hear your outraged gasps from here. Shouldn’t we be lifting up our own work?

Some of you may know the TOMS Shoes story. This amazing organization gives new shoes to kids and families in under-resourced countries.  Their premise is simple. For every pair of shoes purchased, they give a pair away.

On April 5, TOMS hosted their annual One Day Without Shoes, where people around the world go barefoot to lift up their case. That very day I had the privilege to visit Kraft Family YMCA (Apex) and the Downtown YMCA – both branches of the YMCA of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham, NC).

Cary Family YMCA TOMS Walk

As an association, this Y decided to lift up the important work of TOMS by creating donation stations for shoes, highlighting various facts underscoring the health and social issues of kids and families not having shoes, and basically had lots of fun creatively lifting up the TOMS case and activating their members. 

The evening of April 5, the Y encouraged their members and families to “walk a mile in our shoes” where families got active and walked (barefoot) together.

Walking in Cary's Bond Park

I was so proud of this Y!  They were engaging their members through acts of generosity - doing something beyond themselves.

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