I'm so proud of my recently graduated intern, Nicole Wilken. As readers of this blog know, Nicole has researched, created, and offered insightful posts about philanthropy, nonprofit leadership, grant-making, and fundraising since September 2012. Now I'm both so happy (and so sad) to congratulate her on her graduation from Valparaiso University and her new journey to Nicaragua as a Program Director at Manna Project International. Let me tell you, they will be so fortunate to benefit from her quiet, confident leadership.
Let me also share props for Nicole and her team of fellow Valparaiso University SALT (Social Action Leadership Team) students that exceeded their $15,000 fundraising goal by 34%! They raised $20,144.71 for the YAWA Project: Bettering a Nation through Education to implement a literacy program for Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
According to Nicole, the secret sauce that put the fundraising efforts over the top was starting a donor relations program,e.g. visiting with past SALT donors, asking them why they were inspired to give, and sharing what was new with this year's project. Most of the people who received a stewardship visit increased their gifts.
That's one of the beautiful things about Nicole, it was never enough to raise the money. It was always more important to share information, to express thanks, and to make sure whatever she did left a positive impression and a strong foundation for future growth. We should all remember those lessons.
Hats off to you, Nicole! I am excited to learn about your experiences and learn from your work abroad. Change the world, save peoples' lives, make no small plans... and remember your Vitamin C. I am thankful for all the wisdom that you shared with me!