Jennifer Jones’ goal for North Texas Giving Day was to receive $5,000 in donations for her ministry, Hagar’s Heart. She reached $5,310 with 67 donors, plus the Thriving Arlington Midnight grant of $5,000, through the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation. There were other bonuses that showed up along the way as a result of her efforts. “My ministry has grown faster ever since North Texas Giving Day last year. I live in a constant state of overwhelming gratitude”, Jennifer exclaimed, as she readily shared not only what she learned through the process, but offered encouragement and ideas on how other women can benefit from her experience. Here are a few secrets of her success:
Sign up early.
Signing up early – the first day – for the North Texas Giving Day affords you a lot of opportunities and in fact, you are now privy to certain things that will really offer great benefits. For example, WFAA offered a NTXGD kick-off on Good Morning Texas on July 30th. “I had 2 people go on my behalf. I gave them signs and shirts. If you arrive early, you can be in front and possibly be interviewed on camera about your ministry.” Her participants held signs to increase visibility. Another opportunity for signing up early, is receiving “early bird prizes” throughout the DAY OF North Texas Giving Day.
Read everything thoroughly.
“I had nothing to lose, and it brought me success.” Communities Foundations of Texas supports local nonprofits and works to connect nonprofits with companies who want to volunteer. CFT is a partner with NTXGD. “I read through the different possibilities to partner with or receive grants and I filled out the ‘Freedom Day 2021’ application.” Hagar’s Heart was one of 26 nonprofits, chosen to receive volunteers for helping with their “I See You” Boxes. Jennifer was told that eight volunteers would be there for her on a Friday and 20+ volunteers actually showed up! “We had 80 boxes that these volunteers assembled quickly, after which they wrote personal letters to the women who would receive our boxes.” The bonus? They were able to build a relationship with two corporations. One corporation said that if they could get 6 volunteers to work 3 hours at Hagar’s Heart, they would give Hagar’s Heart $2,500. Yes! $2,500 AND volunteers!
Jennifer carefully read each monthly NTXGD Newsletter and found they offer grant applications to help with advertising, building a website, Google analytics, and more. “All of which I had no idea until I read the information.”
Once the CFT chose Hagar’s Heart as a nonprofit to be a part of “Freedom Day 2021,” Jennifer became involved in the CFT communities of nonprofits. CFT will also share with the companies who are part of the CFT volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Hagar’s Heart is now listed in their list of nonprofit businesses
Ask for opportunities – be approachable – know your story.
Those 20+ people who volunteered for their company are now aware of Hagar’s Heart and their mission. These people are now willing to share information as well as volunteer again. Jennifer learned through this process that there are organizations who will pay your ministry for allowing their employees to volunteer!
Jennifer initially formed an “advisory team”, which included supportive friends. “In the beginning, I really didn’t know what I was doing and who the right people were to ask for help. I realized that my friends did not necessarily share my same passion. I would send out an email and receive little response. I did not have an organized idea of what Hagar’s Heart was to look like, but I had the ideas but just couldn’t put it into words. I restructured my advisory team into ‘doers’ and ‘supporters’ – people who wanted to help or be cheerleaders. What ended up happening is that my advisory team took the lead – they are on fire for Hagar’s Heart!” Jennifer now has 16 people in her advisory team who are passionate about Hagar’s Heart. Jennifer meets with her advisory team members six times per year. Just last month, Hagar’s Heart advisory attended a retreat in Glen Rose, Texas to work out signature events and set “SMART” goals to begin the planning for next year. “My advisory team is already hard at work on Santa’s Shack, which is our next project.”
Share on social media.
During NTXGD and leading up to it, my advisory team would share posts multiple times a week. We gained new interest and grew our social media audience. Around 9:00 p.m. on North Texas Giving Day, we realized that we were short on our goal. My advisory team sprang into action and periodically posted on their social media throughout the day (and evening) to notify their friends and family how much we were short on our goal. “When it was posted that we only had $135 remaining to meet our goal, a cousin of one of our advisory team members from California gave $135.”
Have a ‘Kick off” event:
Jennifer and her advisory team hosted an event at a local pizza restaurant with a theme of “Spirit night.” The restaurant paid Hagar’s Heart 10% of the total amount sold for food and offered raffle tickets. Each table had Hagar’s Heart stationery for people to write letters, our information sheets, QR codes for donations, and then Jennfer’s team gave everyone a “bookmark” with remaining activities for the year and a QR code to give to NTXGD. Almost $4,000 in food was sold in 2 hours and they realized $1,900 from the sale of raffle tickets.
Get a post office box in your city.
“There are so many foundations in your city. Arlington Tomorrow Foundation gave us $5,000 for having the most donors in the “late night donating.” Because WNPA has their EIN registered in Plano, Jennifer had to do some researching and give explanations. Jennifer asked Camille at WNPA for advise, and Camille suggested that she obtain a post office box address in Arlington. Once Jennifer explained that to potential partners that her ministry was under the umbrella of WNPA but based in Arlington, they accepted Hagar’s Heart as an Arlington nonprofit. This also allowed Hagar’s Heart to be the winner of the Sociability, “Live Joyfully, Love Generously” grant, which gives Hagar’s Heart great exposure through Sociability. As a result, Hagar’s Heart will be a feature article shared with the Arlington community, and they’re going to give her ministry four hours of free photography.
Pray for protection for yourself, your ministry and every team member.
Inevitably, when you’re doing something good, you can get attacked. Pray protection for yourself, your team, your donors and your ministry.
“I’m getting donations from people that I don’t know – but they find us on the North Texas Giving Day website.” You don’t have work at your ministry alone. Women’s Nonprofit Alliance is here to propel your nonprofit to the next level. Read and take advantage of opportunities in your geographic area. And, jump on opportunities early and often. The next level of success is just around the corner!
The author Sherry Callahan is the Advisory Council Chairman for Women’s Nonprofit Alliance