According to Larry C. Johnson’s Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising, few non-profit organizations see their donors as investors. Often times a non-profit will focus on events where donors get some kind of premium for their one-time donation. Johnson ask us to re-imagine this — to move from a transactional construct to one that is more relational. When we ask people to give, we are inviting them to partner with us, to share in our vision and support our mission and programmatic goals. Before any event we should be asking: Does the event fit in with our mission? Is it worth the time, volunteer and staff effort, and upfront costs? How will we continue to engage our donors afterward? Regardless of the event, be it outreach or fundraising focused, it’s helpful to have a donor management system in place beforehand, to capture data and continue engagement post-event.
My center, the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, has held multiple fundraising and outreach events — a concert with an out of town performer who’d played previous benefits for our local NAMI chapter; a semicolon tattoo event — almost 100 people got permanent ink of henna tattoos that evening; hosting the film “The Mask You Live In”, a documentary about the risks of toxic masculinity, at our local art house theater; and a golf tournament this summer.
We have learned that the best fundraisers are the ones with the lowest initial overhead and the least amount of logistical work!
We have learned to not be too attached to dollar amounts, but to see these events first and foremost as outreach and volunteer engagement/recruitment opportunities. The concert required the most work and capital outlay, and we just broke even financially. We saw it as an overall success as the press surrounding the event did a lot to raise awareness of our service, and bring more prospective volunteers through our doors. The tattoo and film fundraisers were fairly easy to stage, cost relatively little up front and raised decent money between them. Finally, our golf fundraiser was hosted and staged by a person who had lost a family member to suicide some years prior and approached us with the offer.
We also held an outreach event at a local arts festival where we created “listening stations” (booths with hard wired phones inside and out). One trained volunteer inside each booth played a caller with a thought provoking but non-suicidal/ on-super acute crisis story to tell. We asked participants to pick up the phone and simply listen, while our volunteers, in role, shared their stories. The volunteer then thanked the participant for listening.
With the exception of the concert, our goal with each of these events is to have them be, if possible, “The First Annual…” which lowers the logistical bar for us for next year, and starts to build culture, community and history around each event, both within our shop and in our larger community.
Get creative! Ask your volunteers, staff, and local community members for ideas that fit with your mission! Most of all, have fun with it. Treat your volunteers, staff, and participants well, make the most of community engagement opportunities presented, and keep up the dialogue with all of your new and existing partners/ investors! If you are considering a semicolon tattoo event, keep in mind that an organization called Project Semicolon has trademarked some of the associated imagery and verbiage. We reached out to them and got permission in writing before moving forward with the event.
Guest blogger John Reusser is Director of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, and serves on the Board of Directors for CONTACT USA. John is also a member of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, a board member of the Livewilder Foundation, and Certified ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) Trainer and a licensed Designated Examiner.
Another texting success story, this time featuring our friends at Samaritans, was covered in a prominent US news publication.
In April, The Boston Globe highlighted the success of Samaritans’ texting program, which you can read here. According to the report, the organization received more than 300 text messages in February, which was nearly triple the number received in January. They expect to receive upwards of 1,000 text messages per month by this summer as word of the program spreads.
Samartians opted to text-enable their helpline number for the purposes of this program, which is part of its success. Another clear contributor to the volume they’re experiencing is their latest advertising partnership with MBTA in Boston which began in January. The T, as it’s known in Boston, began showing messages on LED notification boards with information such as, “Lonely? Desperate? We can help 24/7″ featuring Samaritans’ number. This and other messages appear periodically between 7am and 9pm on weekdays, and 9am until 9pm on weekends.
While Samaritans and MBTA had an advertising partnership prior to this one, it was MBTA that approached Samaritans last year about expanding the messaging to reach an even larger audience. You can read more about this advertising program in The Boston Globe article.
From all of us at iCarol, we’d like to congratulate Samaritans on the success they’ve had so far, and we wish them all the best with this life-saving program moving forward.
To learn more about texting with iCarol, join one of our Service Alternatives: Live Chat and Texting webinars. If you’d like to learn more about text-enabling your helpline number check out our blog article, and reach out to our support team to get started.
We’d like to congratulate our friends at Karma Nirvana as they recently announced that they are the recipients of a grant award.
This funding will go to assist the Honour Network helpline, the first national line of its kind, which serves victims and others concerned about forced marriages and honour-based abuse, as well as professionals who need guidance on these issues. Helpline counselors have experience in risk assessing situations of honour based abuse or forced marriage, and some can provide peer-based support from their unique perspective as survivors.
According to the organization, they currently serve a volume of approximately 700 calls per month from within the UK. They state that over 200 additional calls per month go unanswered, the majority of which ring to the center during evenings or weekends when the call center is closed. Thanks to this grant, Karma Nirvana will be able to extend their service hours, so they can help more people in need and fewer calls will go unanswered.
We’re so pleased by this wonderful news and wish all the best to Karma Nirvana as they extend their service offerings and save even more lives. To find out more about their service, please visit their website.
In December we passed along the news that our friends at CONTACT Care Line would open a new call center this year.
We’re excited to convey an update that the call center opened in January. We have no doubt that the dedicated staff and volunteers have been enjoying the new space. They have temporary furniture in place. Why is it only temporary? This worthy organization is getting some decorating help from professionals. From a recent mailing:
The Interior Design Society of East TN is working with us to plan, design, furnish, and decorate our new space. We’ll roll out the red carpet and invite you to come for a look once they’ve finished giving us an HGTV styled make-over! The wonderful professionals of the Interior Design Society are donating their time and expertise to give our volunteers a beautiful and highly functional setting in which to work. And, CONTACT is deeply grateful!
We’re so happy to hear this fantastic news and hope you’ll join us in congratulating this awesome organization. There’s nothing quite like a professional space that was designed with love and purpose and care to make the staff and volunteers of a helpline feel valued and appreciated as they do hard, life-saving work.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Knoxville area, we hope you’ll consider attending CONTACT Care Line’s “Bursting the Blues” event on March 5th that will benefit the crisis call center. More details and ticket information is available here.
We always want to spread the word about the great work and accomplishments of helplines. Got a story to share? Please !
Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama laid out plans and proposals aimed at curbing the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
His comments included a desire to help people living with mental illness get the care they need. Our friends at the North Carolina chapter of NAMI were interviewed and provided comments for this story. See the video below, and you can click here for the full article accompanying the video.
Our thanks to NAMI and all of you who are providing your expertise on this critical issue. It’s a delicate subject; on one hand we must have conversations about mental illness and firearms especially as it pertains to suicide and also gun access by those who may be experiencing intense pain, clouded judgment, or issues of perception due to a mental illness. It’s imperative that communities have the tools they need to help at-risk individuals and others who may be suffering, with more funding for intervention, proper care, community training, and other services.
At the same time as we have these discussions, we must be extremely careful not to inadvertently suggest that those experiencing mental illness are inherently violent or should be feared, as this is categorically untrue and not supported by statistics, and it only adds to the prejudices and stigma associated with mental illness that keeps so many from getting the help they need. We’re inspired by how so many of your organizations are intelligently contributing to this conversation and striking that delicate balance so well.
Want to add to this discussion? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below! Is your agency taking action on this topic or participating in events, providing expert commentary, or otherwise taking part in the discussion on this topic? We’d love to hear about it so we can highlight your work on our blog. You can comment below, or .
Beginning in 2011, when the Unites States Senate first recognized Information and Referral Services Day, November 16th was designated to raise public awareness and recognize the critical importance of the I&R field.
Every day thousands of people find the help they need quickly, conveniently and free of charge because of Information and Referral (I&R) services. I&R services come in all shapes and sizes, from crisis lines that provide their local community with a core set of human service referrals, to larger scale 2-1-1 centers and statewide 2-1-1 networks providing comprehensive Information and Referral services to entire states or provinces covering many different topics and types of services.
Information and Referral is the art, science and practice of bringing people and services together and is an integral component of the health and human services sector. People in search of critical services such as shelter, financial assistance, food, jobs, or mental health support often do not know where to begin to get help, or they get overwhelmed trying to find what they need. I&R services recognize that when people in need are more easily connected to the services that will help them, thanks to knowledgeable I&R professionals, it reduces frustration and ensures that people reach the proper services quickly and efficiently.
The people who work these lines are consummate professionals who are often times like living, breathing encyclopedias; providing answers to questions ranging from, “Where can I get a free meal for my family” to “There’s a horse running loose in my neighborhood, who do I call?” We at iCarol are really honored to have so many Information and Referral services all across the world use our software to help provide these services to people who reach them via phone, chat, or text.
If you’d like to learn more about what iCarol does to support efficient referral management, check out this page of our website that goes over some of those features. You’re also welcome to join one of our regular webinars that focuses solely on our Information and Referral tools. We hope you’ll join us sometime to learn more.
Happy I & R Day, everyone, and kudos on the awesome work you do connecting people with the services they need!
Reaching out to talk about your problems and stresses can be tough for anyone, especially teens. According to the staff of Kids Help Phone, teen boys are less likely to reach out than their female counterparts, accounting for only 1 in 5 of their contacts. By the time they do contact someone, the situation has often become critical or even life threatening.
In an effort to encourage young men to reach out about any topic, big or small, Kids Help Phone has launched Bro Talk, a service aimed specifically at teen guys. The newly launched website provides information about topics of concern to teen boys, real life stories, an FAQ about the service, and provides multi-channel communication options for them to speak to Kids Help Phone counsellors. Bro Talk was made possible by the Movember Foundation, a global men’s health organization.
We’re honored to be working with Kids Help Phone on this and other projects, and we’d like to thank them for stopping by our Toronto office with some of these cool Bro Talk tee shirts! We think Mike and Spike made the perfect bro models!
Learn more about Bro Talk by visiting the website, and check out the news story below.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will provide up to $46.8 million in funding over the next few years to support suicide prevention programs as well as those that meet the emotional needs of people affected by disasters.
According to a SAMHSA press release, one grant for up to $18.6 million over the next three years will be awarded to Link2Health Solutions, Inc. of New York, which manages the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) and the National Disaster Distress Helpline (Helpline).
The Lifeline, a national network of suicide prevention helplines which can be reached by dialing 1-800-273 TALK (8255) or via live chat through their webside, will be receive up to $15.9 million from the grant so they can continue to administer and grow the network.
Since its inception, the Lifeline has responded to 7,514,238 calls from people in crisis. Last year it responded to more than 1.3 million calls, which is an average of 3,719 calls daily, nationwide.
Our congratulations and continued appreciation goes out to the helplines that provide this service, many of whom we’re honored to have as clients. You can click here to read the full press announcement.
We’re very happy to help spread the word that the Bell Let’s Talk initiative has been extended for five years, with funding increased to $100 million!
Read more here. You can also read Bell’s announcement here.
This is excellent news for Canadian mental health initiatives. Congratulations to all the agencies that benefit from this campaign, and we look forward to participating in Bell Let’s Talk for years to come!
From October 22nd to 24th, members of our team will be in Detroit for the CUSA/NASCOD conference. We’re really excited to see so many friends and clients who gather at this annual conference which is so popular among crisis and suicide prevention centers.
If your center isn’t already accredited by CONTACT USA, or if you aren’t already a NASCOD member, we encourage you to consider both for your helpline.
CONTACT USA provides one of the most well known and respected crisis center accreditations in the industry. When you are accredited by CONTACT USA it shows your funders that they are contributing to a worthwhile and effective program, and also connects you to a national and international community of those who provide emotional support and crisis intervention all over the world. Further, your community will be assured that your organization provides the highest quality of service. To find out more about this accreditation, you can visit their website.
NASCOD membership is a great resource for Executive Directors or Program Managers of crisis centers. The group provides regular peer support calls on a number of different helpful topics, and group members are regularly networking, discussing challenges, sharing ideas, and generally supporting one another. Many NASCOD members are also iCarol clients and we really enjoy our relationship with the group and its members, iCarol clients and non-clients alike.
If you’re going to be in Detroit we’d love to take some time to chat with you while you’re in town. We’ll be around all throughout the conference so please stop by and say “hi!” Or, if you’d like to arrange a time to meet with us at the conference, contact ahead of time to set up a time to talk with her about your helpline and to learn more about iCarol. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in October!
Stay tuned for further blogs from us about the conference, and we’ll be tweeting throughout the conference, too, so follow us on Twitter!