Interview with a Fundraising Expert: Julian D. Greene
Julian Greene is a blogger and fundraiser. She is now the owner of The Bona Dea Café and Oktober Moon Events.
Luke: Are you involved with fundraising right now? If so, what do you do? If not, what is your background with fundraising and what do you do now? Don’t hold back. We want to hear everything.
Julian: I’ve been involved with fundraising for a long time, but it has recently taken on a whole new role for me. I’ve started my own organization and am seeking non-profit status for us. I will be seeking grants and outside-the-box funding.
I have worked for various non-profits since I was 16, so that’s over 40 years. I started fund-raising at 16 by going around on my own to various churches with my guitar – often solo, sometimes with a quartet — to raise funds for various ministry-related ventures.
As an adult, I expanded beyond my own church roots to working for non-profit rehab programs, homeless shelters, education programs, gift shops, and development. My English degree and background in publishing parlayed into advertising and marketing, and my subject-area emphasis in Seminary was in Church Growth, of which finding funding is always a part.
Luke: What has been the most successful fundraiser you’ve been involved with? Why was it so successful?
Julian: Well, I calculate success in ways other than monetarily, so I would have to choose the fundraiser where we raised money to fix a weekly family style meal for homeless veterans and their families who were living in a tent city in the woods where I was in Washington State. We were able to get the facility and commercial kitchen where we prepared and served the meals donated, and people from all around the area donated so we could purchase food.
Luke: What has been the most enjoyable fundraiser you’ve been involved with and what made it fun?
Julian: The most fun I ever had was when I walked with a group of people from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, to raise money for a homeless shelter in Seattle. Again, people were so responsive. Not only did we get lots of people to pledge per mile (which was 200 miles on foot), but as we passed through small towns, when people found out what we were doing, they all dug deep. I could tell lots of stories about that one. The camaraderie, people’s responses, and just the down deep feeling that we were doing a really good thing made it so much fun. We camped out every night for 10 days, plus we got to see things that you never would, whizzing by these places on the interstate.
Luke: What do you think is the key to motivating volunteers to support a fundraiser?
Julian: I have a good strategy for motivating volunteers and also for motivating people to donate. I don’t take something on unless I truly believe in the cause personally. I can literally sell anything I care about. People are embarrassed to ask for money, and some people are opposed to giving, or, if they are givers, they think they give to too many things, thus they feel obligated to say no sometimes.
I train my volunteers with the strategy they need to be successful. I suppose they are sales techniques to a degree, but I help them to overcome the objections within themselves so they no longer feel embarrassed to ask, and they are also armed with what to say to get people to overcome their objections.
For instance, when we had volunteers going from door to door in a small community to raise money for the hot meals for the homeless veterans in the nearby tent city, of course we encountered people who were unhappy about the tent city in the first place. The usual comment was, “Those people choose to live that way. Why should I help them do what they want to do?” To overcome their objection, we suggested that although they may have chosen that life for themselves, their children didn’t choose it, and the children deserved a good hot meal once a week. Almost everybody donated then, begrudgingly or not. And once the volunteers saw the success rate of that strategy, they stopped feeling nervous about it, and knocking on those doors became a light thing instead of a heavy duty.
Luke: It’s especially challenging right now to raise money because of the state of the global economy. People are tapped out and don’t have as much money to give. How does someone looking to fundraise overcome this?
Julian: People feel like they don’t have as much money to give, but really they are just choosier who they give to. A giver is always a giver, no matter what their resources or financial status. You just have to have the best fund-raising strategy, psychologically. Seriously, you’re appealing to people’s minds and hearts, not just their wallet. The reason I say hearts AND minds, is that that has to be a big part of the equation. Any heartwarming story can appeal, but if you want to appeal to their wallets, you need to also appeal to their minds. Show them why, logically, they should choose your appeal.
Luke: How can a small organization fundraise effectively without having any money on hand?
Julian: To me the single-most important thing is having a person on the committee, and preferably the chief fundraiser, who is highly creative, motivated to your cause, and a big-picture, outside-the-box thinker. For instance, I need some small kitchen appliances for my new organization. Amazon sent me something yesterday that said, “Win a $2500 Amazon shopping spree just for…” I almost deleted it, then I thought, why not? The Universe has seen to it that I have everything I’ve needed so far – if I do this, maybe I’ll win it. I’m big on remembering that story where people looking to be rescued from a flood passed up a ride on a boat because they said the Lord would help them instead. After they drowned, when they got to see the Lord, they said, “Why didn’t you save us?” To which he replied, “Who do you think sent the boat?” The Lord, the Universe, whoever you’re looking to for help won’t just sneak it into your bank account, but opportunities for cash might keep popping up in unexpected places. It’s important to have someone on board who sees and seizes every opportunity to find cash.
Sometimes your needs are fulfilled without cash. I’ve been looking for 20 years to be able to purchase a B&B where I can hold healing retreats and teach people whole life skills. But I don’t even own my own home, let alone buying a B&B. Then one day I was introduced to a man who was looking for someone to help him creatively with his small inn. Now I own the restaurant for the inn, and I’m organizing retreats, spa vacations, and working with many healers in the area to do classes, workshops, and offer healing modalities. It will fill up the Inn, draw tourists from around the world; I did it with less than $600 in the bank and everybody wins. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now I’m creating my own 501c3 organization.
Luke: Why do you think you are so successful at fundraising? Don’t hold back. Our readers want to know.
Julian: (laughing) Ah, there’s the key to it all. Are you ready for this? Years ago, I overheard a conversation between two women. One said to the other, “The difference between a Christian and a Witch is that the Witch knows her prayers will be answered. Christians just fervently hope, then if it doesn’t happen they decide it was “the Lord’s will.” Now, please. I am not trying to be offensive here. I was an evangelical Christian at the time, and I pondered that question for years. Then I discovered exactly what she was talking about. In Seminary, I was identified as having an unusual “gift” of prayer in that my prayers were answered far more frequently than the average Christian’s. I finally discovered that it was because so often people so fervently fear that their requests somehow go against “God’s express will” for them, that they are always prepared to take no for an answer. And if they don’t take no for an answer, that’s somehow sinful. Both Christian and Occult masters teach the same thing, but it’s often ignored. It’s good plain advice for anyone.
St. Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Aleister Crowley, the father of modern occultism, and touted as the wickedest man in the world, put forth the same concept when he said, “Do all as unto the Beloved; anything else is Black Magic.”
That’s my entire core philosophy. If it’s something I believe in, I believe, metaphorically, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. But it’s not a maniacal desperation or psychotic grandiosity, it’s simple knowledge that I choose to walk in alignment with my own Will and the Will of the Universe to bring about good things.
Theology says that Jesus was fully God and fully man. We need to be the same. We attribute full humanity to Jesus yet think we can’t accomplish the same works because he had some special powers to wield on earth. Not true. He set aside those powers when he chose to walk this earth. He accomplished what he did because he lived in such a way that kept a two way direct channel between himself and God. We can choose to live our lives in the same way. No matter what our religious persuasion: Christian, Jew, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist or what have you. “As above, so below.” Whatever good things there are in the macrocosm, you can bring into your own microcosm. What better way to raise money?
Aren’t you glad you asked that question?
Luke: Was fundraising once harder for you than it is now? What changed?
Julian: Yes. Until I developed my core philosophy, fundraising was an exercise in frustration. Now it’s a piece of cake.
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