Profession: Partner, Next Stage Advisors (non-profit fundraising consultants) and author of The A-to-Z Guide to Event Fundraising
Location: Atlanta, GA
Amy has more than two decades of helping non-profits maximize their impact via improved strategy, marketing and fundraising, including volunteer and employee engagement. Prior to founding Next Stage Advisors, Amy was a leader at Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry, a national nonprofit, as Director of Grassroots Fundraising and Youth Engagement where she builds a community of people of all ages to help spread the word and raise funds to end childhood hunger. Prior to that, Amy was Share Our Strength’s Atlanta Director where she raised more than $3 million via special events and donations.
In 2017, Amy authored The A-to-Z Guide to Event Fundraising. The book helps nonprofits of all sizes with their special event fundraisers by creating a blueprint to help them organize well-run events that net both high profits and new supporters for their organization.
When was your first connection to a charity?
Earlier in my career, I saw an article about childhood hunger in Parade magazine that caught my attention. It encouraged people to host bake sales and send the money raised to an organization named Share Our Strength. I was a new mom at the time and the thought of a hungry child was heartbreaking to me. I love to bake and it seemed like the perfect way for me to do something I enjoyed and help some children that weren’t as fortunate as my son. The only problem was I couldn’t find a location to host the sale. I worked for a restaurant company at the time and I convinced my boss that we needed to host a bake sale for Share Our Strength by selling each of our restaurants top dessert to diners. He agreed to my plan and we made several hundred dollars to help feed kids. Ironically, nearly a decade later I ended up leading that program for Share Our Strength!
Tell us about your vision for making a difference.
During my career, I’ve been involved in numerous charities at a variety of levels: as a Director, on the organizations’ boards of directors, as a full-time employee, and as an unpaid volunteer. When I started my own consulting firm, I still had the passion to continue to work in nonprofit, but I wasn’t sure in exactly what capacity. Then I realized that a common component to many small to medium sized nonprofits’ challenges is that they were positioned to grow, but were often caught in the “Catch-22” of “you can’t grow without more revenue, but you can’t get more revenue without growing.” These well-meaning organizations wanted to hire additional staff and increase programmatic reach, but couldn’t without the additional funding first. That is when I decided to focus my company on helping numerous nonprofits make the jump to the “next stage”. Our rate structure provides for short term projects to help them get the funding they need so they can grow. Whether it’s helping their special event raise more funds via sponsorships or day of individual giving, researching and writing a grant or helping with board development, I am thrilled to help multiple organizations achieve the funds they need to grow and succeed.
What motivates you to give?
I believe that we all have an obligation to help those who are in need. It could be donations of time, money or both. We are extremely blessed that we have more than we need so I donate time and money where I can. Organizational missions that speak to me are my biggest motivator. Organizations that help sick children and their families, work to alleviate hunger and give women opportunities are all things that matter enough to me to invest my dollars. Most, but not all, of my money, goes towards local organizations, but there is something powerful about knowing that a small amount of money donated to projects in developing nations can make a huge impact so I enjoy making those gifts as well.
What have you learned and what advice do you have?
Two big things stand out from my career in nonprofit work. The first is that people are often amazing and generous with their time and money and want to help nonprofit organizations make big changes in their communities and beyond. What often happens though, is that the asks made by the organizations are too broad or general. “Help us raise money” is much more intimidating (and more likely to get a “no”, or worse yet, no response at all) than “Can you connect me with XYZ person so I can ask them about supporting our event though a sponsorship?” Be specific with your needs and ask people to do specific tasks to help you and your organization. Second is that you can’t underestimate the importance of showing your mission and impact in every communication you have. Stories about the people or changes you are making, information about what a donation can accomplish, and reporting progress towards your goals are important to helping move supporters to the next level. You can turn event attendees or people who visit your website into volunteers, donors and even board members and corporate sponsors if you are showcasing your work and accomplishments in a powerful way.