On April 1st, fundraising giant Donald Harris passed away after battling brain cancer. This year, we lost a great, but thanks to modern technology, Don’s legacy is only the beginning. The following is the account of how a Variety board member recently utilized peer-to-peer fundraising applications to help further the legacy and profound impact of children’s champion Don Harris.
Don Harris was, among many other things, a powerful advocate of children’s causes. Yes, he was the former president of domestic distribution at Paramount Pictures and executive at DreamWorks and AMC, but to many children worldwide, he was a guardian angel.
As a past Variety International Board Director who was an active member of Variety International Children's Fund, and the son of one of Variety’s founders, Don Harris has championed many children’s causes throughout his life. For instance, over the last four years, his focus was on bettering the lives of orphaned gypsy children in Ukraine. During his first year raising funds for these children, he helped clothe over 600 orphans. This was the first year no children died. Then in 2013, Harris saw the construction of a dormitory completed that would help provide the children with healthcare, showers, and food.
With Harris’s family still in mourning, Variety’s board members wondered how anyone could ever take Harris’s place as a fundraising superhero. It was ultimately Board Member David Small who had the vision to create a fundraiser for children with special needs that would not only memorialize Harris’s impact, but continue his beautiful legacy.
“The software is really wonderful. There’s an app rolled into the software suite that helps increase donor satisfaction by sending automated, personalized emails to our donors for gifts, which strengthens our connection with our donors and saves us a lot of time.”
Today, enabling your board members to be effective fundraisers is easier to do than ever. Although it would be impossible for anyone to ever fill this great man’s shoes, with a little assistance from technology, Small crafted a fundraiser powerful enough to continue advocating Harris’s prized causes in his absence.
To accomplish this, Small made use of Arreva's peer-to-peer fundraising application, which helped simplify the process of reaching out to existing donors and potential supporters with limited staff. In an interview with Small, he explained that the application also made it easier to share his fundraiser on social media and send out personalized emails to constituents.
“Before we invested in Arreva,” said Small, “We would only make our asks for Variety face-to-face—and we still do that, because in-person asks are very important—but when you send a personalized fundraiser to individuals you know, it saves a tremendous amount of time, and your reach becomes global.”
In Variety’s case, investing in technology to enable streamlined peer-to-peer fundraising paid off big time. Small set the fundraising goal at $50,000, and within a short period of time, over $40,000 was raised, already well-paying for the price of the software in just one fundraising campaign.
More and more nonprofits are turning to fundraising software to optimize peer-to-peer fundraising for not only their board members, but supporters of all kinds. Pressed to share a little more about the benefits of having fundraising software, Small expounded, “The software is really wonderful. There’s an app rolled into the software suite that helps increase donor satisfaction by sending automated, personalized emails to our donors for gifts, which strengthens our connection with our donors and saves us a lot of time.” Small also strongly recommends investing in an all-in-one solution to simplify application management.
There aren’t many Don Harris’s in the world, but thanks to fully integrated fundraising software, we are fast approaching a time when any board member can be transformed into a fundraising powerhouse with a little help from technology.