Headshot_SoniaPlataDonor Profile: Meet Sonia Plata

How did you first learn about and become connected to GIFT?
I learned about GIFT during a presentation given by Kim Klein, one of the founders of GIFT, 10 or more years ago. Although I was not new to fundraising for the nonprofit sector, what I heard left an impression. Additionally, Kim quickly laid out the importance of fundraising through her stories and referencing the Grassroots Fundraising Journal. During that time, I was working with frontline grassroots providers many whom where founders and/or volunteers for organizations serving youth. Her message resonated loudly and clearly about the importance of raising money from your community and building relationships with donors.

When thinking of fundraising or skill-building resources, I would more often than not reference Grassroots Fundraising Journal articles. At one point in my work, I was able to purchase subscriptions for the community organizations that participated in New Detroit’s capacity building program for over 10 years. I knew this could be a key resource for community-based organizations in their fundraising efforts and would introduce them to a tool they could use again and again.

Due to this relationship with GIFT, I was later recruited to join GIFT’s board and, through that conversation, decided that I could best contribute by volunteering on GIFT’s finance committee. I still do that to this day.

How did you become a donor to GIFT?
As my connection to the organization and some of the staff deepened, I was asked to become a donor, and eventually a monthly sustainer. I knew the importance of GIFT’s work. Having a personal connection that then led to being asked was a key component for me to become a donor. As I felt more connected, I wanted to be more supportive.

What do you think is important for community-based organizations to know about grassroots fundraising?
Organizations always go through changes and that makes it important to build connections with people in your community. Those connections build a foundation that can carry an organization through transitions and challenges. In addition, people who feel connected to your work also bring some of their own connections into relationship with the work. In that way, fundraising is also about organizing.

What do you wish others knew about GIFT?
The people and organizations GIFT serves are often not the ones that get a lot of support from funders. Those grassroots, community-based organizations are often overlooked by funders even if they are well known in their communities. Sometimes their missions aren’t likely to draw funder support or are seen as controversial, etc. I’m thinking of groups working with immigrant communities, emergent populations, and youth development as a few examples. However, those groups are making a difference on the ground in their communities. GIFT supports organizations that don’t have a large staff or infrastructure and not only makes fundraising feel possible but also makes it an attainable skill because GIFT provides training with an understanding of the importance of knowing and working with the community being served. GIFT has an understanding of working with marginalized communities. Monetary support from a funder is important, but the support GIFT provides creates empowerment. GIFT’s approach isn’t from the lens of charity but from the lens of social justice and self determination. When people experience a training, it’s empowering and transformational because they then affect their whole organization which then affects the whole community they serve and increases their ability to do the work that’s needed.

GIFT is always learning and applying what they learn – so continuing to change and innovate based on their connections to the people doing the work on the ground. It’s a small organization but knows how to use technology and resources to still serve across the country. For example, GIFT was doing webinars before they became commonplace.

What do you think donors want to see in an organization that keeps them giving on a continued basis?
A donor wants to see how their gift is making an impact and who the gift is supporting. Thank you letters and acknowledgements are important, but they also want to know that their donation is making a difference. For example, people know that a donation to GIFT has a greater impact on the communities that often receive less support because GIFT directly serves those working at the neighborhood or community level. Supporting GIFT supports those communities. Donors also want to know some of the staff as people, to have a personal connection.


Building People-Powered Movements

“I really liked the mix of big picture, generative conversations with the concrete skills and exercises. The training hit a great balance of concepts that I want to integrate into my work and tangible next steps to take with my team.”

~Introductory Training Institute Participant

GIFT launched its pilot program in May 2015 with a four-day “Introduction to Grassroots Fundraising” training institute held at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, CA. Participant feedback was overwhelming enthusiastic with more than 90 percent reporting they felt confident to implement what they learned and were motivated to strengthen their fundraising efforts as a result of the training. The cohort of 18 fundraisers, 80 percent people of color, traveled from 7 states including Arizona, California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. Thanks to generous support from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, GIFT provided simultaneous Spanish language interpretation for the duration of the training.

Building on the momentum of last year’s Money for Our Movements Conference, GIFT will return to Baltimore to host “Grassroots Fundraising for Organizers and Activists” on October 22-24, a three-day training institute including local panel presentations and individual consultation sessions with seasoned grassroots fundraisers. With priority given to Black-led organizations and Baltimore-based groups, we are excited to welcome our cohort of 30 fundraisers from 25+ organizations in 12 states. With training provided by GIFT Trainers Jennifer Dillon and Veronica Garcia, participants will explore personal experiences with money, breakdown common fears and myths about fundraising and walk away with knowledge, skills and tools to develop a case statement, build and engage a fundraising team and donor base, make a one-to-one donor ask, and develop an annual grassroots fundraising plan. Thank you to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for generously sponsoring the training, and the Public Justice Center for providing in-kind space. We are grateful to BMe Community – Baltimore for their endorsement.

resourcing_logo_copyGIFT participated in its 3rd Allied Media Conference this year as co-coordinators of the Resourcing and Sustaining Our Movements track. Through 15 participatory workshops, skill share sessions, and peer networking opportunities, participants explored creative responses to the common fund/resource raising and sustainability challenges including People-Powered Movements, Fundraising Your Stories, Building Our Movements Without Losing Ourselves, and Crowdfunding to Build Community. In just a few years, this track has grown exponentially in both attendance and programming, beginning three years ago with a fundraisers networking and skill share attended by a few people to this year’s track reaching hundreds of fundraiser organizers! We are excited to continue creating spaces for fundraisers, resource organizers and mobilizers to come together to share, strategize and support one another.


Help Shape the Future of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal!

GFJ_July-Aug 2015 CoverOur Reader Survey just went live and we invite you, our community of supporters, to be the first to weigh in on the future direction of the Journal. Please click here to share your feedback. Thank you!

Here are some of the articles we’ve had the pleasure of publishing so far this year:

10 Years, 10 Days, $10K by Kiara Boone, Autumn Hubbard & Trish Tchume
Staff and board of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network set out to mark their 10-year anniversary by raising $10,000. Read how they adjusted their plans right before launching their campaign and more than doubled their goal.

Planting Roots for the Migrant Justice Movement in Phoenix by Caroline Picker
Puente Human Rights Movement had outgrown their meeting space. Here’s how they raised $100,000 in six weeks to purchase a building of their own.

Let’s Do a Fundraising Event! (Or Not): Crafting Fundraising Event Criteria for Your Organization by Rona Fernandez
How do you determine an event fundraising goal? How can we ensure our events are aligned with our organizational culture and values? Rona Fernandez answers these questions and more, as part of the critical process of developing fundraising event criteria.