By: Katie Sobiech
Rick Andrielli, owner of Akron’s Hilton and Doubletree Hotels, had no idea that touring the Akron Rotary Camp a couple of years ago would stir up a brand new mission in his heart.
“Rick and his wife toured the camp built for kids with special needs and he said it was deplorable. He said ‘These kids need to stay at a Hilton’,” Suzanne Allen, President of the North Central Ohio Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), said.
Andrielli didn’t let the dust settle on his heart. He did something about it. He contacted the AFP and said, “I want to start raising some money”.
“He said that the children needed to stay in places where they felt safe and comfortable – not in 1950’s cabins,” Allen said.
Since then, he’s renovated three of the five cabins.
“They look like Hilton’s now,” Allen smiled, “It’s a beautiful facility right on one of the Portage Lakes.”
The AFP helped Andrielli raise over $120,000.
“He is one of the nicest men you will ever, ever meet,” Allen shared, “And these are the kinds of people we get to honor, and that I work with every day. I mean he just teared up at the National Philanthropy Day awards. He said, ‘You know, I just run a hotel’.”
Making It Work
So, along with individuals bringing their dreams to fruition, how do great non-profits stay alive, and thrive?
They need a funding system, which is often the backbone of what they do, allowing them to continue on with their efforts successfully.
Allen views fundraising as her art and craft. Her passion for her work clearly shows. AFP’s dream goal and mission is to make the community a better place. They help do this through their network of committed professionals, and exciting and cutting edge educational and professional advancement opportunities.
“The AFP is really about helping fundraisers become better, or more skilled. To give them an outlet and a place for educational opportunities,” Allen shared.
“In Akron there are 1,400 non-profits and well over 2,000 in Summit County,” Allen said.
But, non-profits rarely have a professional fundraiser.
“Most of them are very small organizations and the President is the one trying to raise money. Some have people with little experience doing fundraising and the marketing too. AFP’s goal is to help that continuum,” Allen said.
“If you’re working at (a mission or non-profit) and you’re handling volunteers, working with intake, and trying to write fundraising letters you want to know (how to do) it better so that next year you’re not sending out 5,000 letters and getting $500,” she continued.
Many AFP members have been in the field for a while and have become great mentors.
“It’s beneficial to people at all different levels,” Allen said.
Make Your Mark
Once given a dream or vision you desire to fulfill, making your mark on society isn’t always that easy of a task. A network of resources, or “village”, is often needed to make that dream come true. Not much gets done with one man trying to do it all himself.
Working together, and with an educated approach, is necessary.
“It’s an art and craft, and something we feel strongly about. We’re not haphazardly raising money for odd things. It’s a very strategic approach. One that requires lots of research and metrics to measure whether or not we’re being successful,” Allen said.
Research is also a key aspect to what they do.
“I have the strongest board I’ve ever worked with and they are awesome. They do things. They don’t just talk about it, but they go out and make things happen, and make things happen extremely well,” Allen said.
“And it’s a young board. I’m really pleased to see younger people getting involved in the professional aspect of fundraising,” she continued.
Part Two coming next week!
If you are interested in finding out more or becoming a member of this group please visit http://www.afpncoh.org/ for more info.