Get on the Bus

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  • #624
    Caryl Turnow
    @carylturnow

    Three years ago we wanted to find a way to connect our donors with small nonprofits that are doing some great work in our community. We are fortunate to have a great relationship with our local United Way and asked them to join us in this effort.

    Twice a year we ask our donors to sign up to get on the bus and physically see nonprofits and learn firsthand about the issues their programs are addressing.

    What we learned is that donors are less inclined to take a tour of a nonprofit that they are already giving to or that is well known in the community. We switched our format up in the last year to frame the bus trip around an emerging need in the community. Our normal format is to discuss the need on the way to our first nonprofit and then see a presentation, learn more on the bus as we head to a second nonprofit and then end the evening with a light supper with a panel of these nonprofits and others who are addressing the identified need. Donors really enjoy being informed of the need and seeing the different ways that nonprofits are making an impact.

    It has been a big hit with the nonprofits and the donors. The nonprofits see buy-in from their local community foundation, as well as exposure to new people who volunteer, become board members or a financial supporter of their organizations. Donors like being informed of the needs in the community and being able to choose how they engage with the nonprofits.

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    • #647
      Karina DeJong
      @karinadejong

      The partner of CMCF – the Willmar Area Community Foundation borrowed the “Get on the Bus” concept and it is also a hit with our donors! Our bus tours are called the “Community Impact Tours”.

      WACF offers this 3 to 4 times a year, in the months between May to October. We currently are focused on visiting two non-profits per bus visits. However, our tours are primarily focused on the non-profits in which WACF has granted to on a program/project in the past couple of years.

      During our timeframe at the non-profit they not only showcase everything they do, but give a moment to share about the partnership with the foundation. Donors can ask any types of questions throughout the tours and also on the bus. Before we arrive we share the background of the non-profit and the amount of dollars we have invested in the past couple of years to the non-profit.

      We have had huge success with these intimate tours. We usually have about a group of 20…which is perfect for our area due to that most of our non-profits are smaller. This allows for a lot of conservation and dialogue between the donors and the non-profit partners. We always ask at the end of a tour at each non-profit what they could use most at the current moment…what the current needs are. This is the perfect opportunity for our donors to be able to be the match to some of these needs by using their donor advised fund.

      Currently right now we invite donor advised fundholders, current and past fundholders and any key individuals in the area. We are excited to see how it can continue to expand this coming year. I HIGHLY recommend these tours!

    • #650
      Caryl Turnow
      @carylturnow

      Thanks for sharing Karina! It is fun to hear how Willmar has put its own twist this donor engagement opportunity. We serve our donors best when we focus our energies on designing an event that reflects the community’s unique personality and needs!

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