Philanthropy in 2021: Six strategies to cultivate donor relationships

Personal relationships are a critical component of philanthropy.

Donors don’t often give solely because they support a cause. They give because they trust the people behind the cause. It’s those individuals who set policies into motion, establish successful programs and ensure exceptional financial stewardship, and ultimately accomplish an organization’s mission and vision.

During the pandemic, though, face-to-face communications were limited at best. As a result, a study published by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Candid Research Solutions found that one-third of nonprofits in the U.S. were at risk of closing within two years because of financial impacts from COVID-19.

Not every nonprofit floundered during the pandemic, though. In fact, many flourished by implementing innovative outreach programs that connected with donors and potential supporters on a deeper, more personal level.

A return to “normalcy” will bring back traditional donor relations activities, like fundraising galas and social events. However, organizations that adopted new communications strategies during the pandemic discovered additional ways to connect with key stakeholders, and it’s likely that some or all of the following strategies will remain long after the pandemic:

· Video: As the only means of face-to-face communications for a time, video offered opportunities for personal connections through personalized messages, one-on-one conversations and group presentations, essentially connecting organizations to a larger audience through Zoom, Teams or other platforms.

· Social media: As a running news feed, social media allows nonprofits to control the message while offering more frequent updates than traditional news media can provide. Visuals are especially important in allowing audiences to see how the organization is accomplishing its goals.

· Cell phones: Text messages and phone calls offer simple ways for periodic check-ins to stay top of mind with supporters. One-on-one communications, even without back-and-forth dialogue, helps maintain a positive relationship.

· Email: Platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact allow organizations to create monthly or quarterly e-newsletters to reach supporters, philanthropic partners, volunteers, community leaders and even media. Crisp designs with colorful images and catchy headlines keep recipients engaged and help drive traffic to the website.

· Virtual events: After canceling in-person philanthropic events in 2020 and early 2021, many organizations are considering smaller galas or hybrid events for the 2021-22 fundraising season. Virtual events don’t have to disappear, though. With lower production costs and a shorter planning timeline, virtual events offer opportunities to create dynamic, authentic events that resonate with audiences near and far. Online donation portals are secure and fast.

· Small gatherings: While face-to-face fundraising and large-scale events might not be as frequent in the near future, there is a growing interest in more intimate gatherings. One-on-one conversations in a safe, familiar environment with fewer attendees offers a good opportunity to personally deliver new collateral, such as a printed annual impact report, that helps demonstrate the importance of philanthropic support and overall organizational success.

Although the pandemic forced nonprofits to think “outside the box,” many strategies to communicate with donors and influencers are here to stay and can help deepen relationships.

– By Kelly Krupp, CFPE, vice president of philanthropy at Guadalupe Center.


Philanthropy in uncertain times: How, and where, to make a difference

At this point each year, Southwest Florida’s philanthropic scene starts to explode with fundraising galas and special events.

The continued presence of COVID-19, however, is reshaping philanthropy here and across the nation. Formal fundraising galas, the type of black-tie affairs where nonprofits can raise $1 million or more in a single night, will be few and far between.

Instead, nonprofits are turning toward virtual events while identifying new opportunities to connect with and recognize their supporters. For example, Guadalupe Center’s Circtacular on Jan. 21 will be a livestreamed, circus-themed virtual event that captures the excitement and energy of the circus while demonstrating Guadalupe Center’s impact on education and poverty in Immokalee.

With no definitive end to the world’s health and economic crisis, philanthropic-minded individuals still recognize the community’s needs and the potential impact of their generosity. Without question, 2020 has been a challenging year for nonprofits. However, Southwest Florida is home to successful business leaders and entrepreneurs who value philanthropy and cherish opportunities to provide resources that will help nonprofits carry out their missions.

Below are four tips to consider when deciding how, and where, to make a difference in the community we call home.

Select a cause

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered with the IRS. Nonprofits represent the arts, culture, humanities, education, research, environment, health care, human services, religion and many others.

When giving, consider causes near and dear to your heart. Sharing a personal connection with a cause strengthens the bond and creates a vested interest in an organization’s success.

Evaluate organizations

Donors want to feel confident that an organization is spending their contributions wisely while accomplishing its mission. Charity Navigator offers 4-star ratings to signify an organization’s financial strength, accountability and transparency. GuideStar offers platinum ratings to nonprofits that chart their success and accomplishments using verifiable data.

When giving, consider local nonprofits. These boots-on-the-ground organizations are the pulse of a thriving community. They may have relatively small budgets compared to national nonprofits, but they have big dreams and aspirations.

Determine the purpose

Learn about an organization’s specific needs and how your donation will help accomplish the nonprofit’s goals and objectives. Look for organizations that collaborate with others in the community. Ask for a tour. Nonprofits are proud to demonstrate their success.

Where possible, consider making an unrestricted gift to provide nonprofits with the greatest flexibility. Many organizations are unable to host traditional fundraising events and they’re facing uncertain financial futures, so flexibility is vital to helping the causes you care about.

Choose a gift type

Monetary donations and even multi-year pledges are among the easiest ways to contribute while also providing the most flexibility for an organization. Planned giving allows donors to create a legacy through appreciated stock, charitable rollover, charitable lead or remainder trusts, endowments and beneficiary designations.

When giving, consider an organization’s long-term needs. Gifts are needed today, tomorrow and beyond. Blended gifts can incorporate both cash and planned gift vehicles, allowing you to support the organization now and into the future. Supporters have designated Guadalupe Center, for instance, as beneficiaries in wills, trusts, life insurance policies and retirement plans, thus reducing the size of donors’ taxable estates before assets are transferred to heirs.

Nonprofits in Southwest Florida rely on philanthropy to carry out their work. Although 2020 introduced a host of new fundraising challenges, we’re blessed to live, work and play in a community that always comes through in times of need.

READ MORE: How to Give: Your Gift is Needed Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

fundraising– By Kelly Krupp, Senior Director of Philanthropy at Guadalupe Center

Guadalupe Center breaks ground on van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning

Guadalupe Center broke ground on Oct. 30 for a new educational campus that will create lasting, transformational change for students in Immokalee. 

The van Otterloo Family Campus for Learning will feature two academic buildings with multiple classrooms, a library, learning lab, cafeteria and kitchen, playground, administrative offices, mentor lounges, commons areas, medical and dental suiteoutdoor gardens and a student wall of fame. The campus will accommodate up to 154 students in Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program, as well as 125 high school students in the college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program. 

Guadalupe Center named the campus in honor of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloowhose generous $5 million matching gift helped launch the project and inspired others to give. Within the campus, Brynne & Bob Coletti Hall will become the new home for the Tutor Corps Program. Barron Collier Companies donated 9.5 acres for the new campus. 

A strong early childhood education gives children the best opportunity for future success, and this expansion will allow more students to get a head start on an education that will carry them through school, into college and beyond,” said Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center. “We are truly grateful for all of the generous donors who stepped forward to help this dream become a reality for families in Immokalee. 

Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE). It also is recognized through the Southwest Florida Stars – Quality Rating and Improvement System and Gold Seal Quality Care Program through the Florida Department of Children and Families. Additionally, Guadalupe Center has a five-star rating from the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. 

Tutor Corps is a highly selective, college preparatory program that offers guidance in college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance, as well as wages for tutoring younger students at Guadalupe Center. 

In August, Guadalupe Center opened the Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, which can accommodate up to 64 students ages 6 weeks to 3 years old. The addition of the van Otterloo campus will bring Guadalupe Center’s total student population to more than 1,800 students annually. 

Guadalupe CenterConstruction costs for both new campuses are being funded through “Guadalupe Center: 2020 & Beyond,” a capital and operational campaign raising money to build new educational centers, hire additional staffexpand academic programs and establish an operational endowment fund. 

“When our children were old enough to have conversations about philanthropy, we discussed creating a foundation and what causes we’d like to support as a family, such as a hospital or museum,” Rose-Marie van Otterloo said. “Everyone said education, and that’s what we’ve been supporting for the past 20 years.” 

After moving to Naples, a friend introduced the van Otterloos to Guadalupe Center. After that first visit, Rose-Marie was hooked. 

“I fell in love with this place because of its mission,” she said. “The only way to get out of poverty is through education, and Guadalupe Center is providing hope to so many families in Immokalee.” 

Construction on the van Otterloo campus, which will be located at 3655 Westclox St. in Immokalee, is expected to be complete in late 2021. Project partners include Heatherwood Construction, David Corban Architects and Peninsula Engineering. 

Guadalupe Center is recognizing donors through a naming opportunity campaign. Several investment opportunities are still available, including classrooms, building wings and offices. For information about additional giving opportunities, please contact Senior Director of Philanthropy Kelly Krupp at 239-657-7711. 

Couple’s generosity fuels Immokalee families during tough times

No one is immune from the coronavirus.

While the number of COVID-19 cases is relatively small compared to the region’s population, there isn’t a single person in Southwest Florida who has not been impacted by the virus. Financial markets and 401(k) plans have collapsed. Schools, businesses and restaurants have temporarily closed. Supermarkets and big box stores cannot keep essential items in stock.

However, the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting lower-income families, particularly those in the service industry – hotels, restaurants, retail stores and attractions.

In Immokalee, nearly half of families were living in poverty before the crisis, and that figure is certain to rise in the coming weeks and months as the service industry staggers and agriculture jobs disappear for the summer. Those workers are the parents of students at Guadalupe Center. They work hard, but live paycheck to paycheck. Now, that paycheck is either smaller or non-existent.

Thankfully, local school systems are providing “grab-and-go” meals to students while schools are closed. For many children, it’s the only nutritious, well-balanced meal they will receive. Unfortunately, those programs don’t operate on the weekend, and that concerns Debbie and Bill Toler, community leaders with a passion for helping nonprofits, particularly those focused on education and youth. The Tolers were exploring ways to help locally owned businesses impacted by the economic and health crisis, like Jonesez BBQ, a Fort Myers-based caterer recovering from a barrage of cancelations. Debbie contacted Guadalupe Center to begin developing a plan to feed students and their families.

Jonesez BBQ’s three food trucks rolled into Immokalee on Saturday, March 21, serving 1,000 hot meals – pulled chicken and pork, rice, beans and rolls – in drive-thru style lines to minimize contact and follow federal guidelines for social distancing. To increase the impact across several geographical areas and reach more families, the trucks were stationed at Guadalupe Center’s Monaghan Family Early Childhood Education Campus, as well as at community partners Pathways Early Learning Center and Redlands Christian Migrant Association. All three organizations serve the students of Immokalee. The Tolers have generously supported Guadalupe Center for years and were happy to partner on another meaningful event.

“We truly believe in their mission and they service some of the neighborhoods that really need it the most,” Debbie said. “They take care of educational needs of so many children in the community and it’s beyond just the children – it’s the entire family.”

Guadalupe Center’s weekly Smart Start family literacy program, for example, shows parents how to facilitate in-home learning and ensure that children are reaching age-appropriate development milestones. Guadalupe Center also has partnered with the Immokalee Unmet Needs Coalition to help provide housing for families whose homes were severely damaged by Hurricane Irma.

Guadalupe Center relies on assistance from generous supporters like the Tolers to carry out its mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. The center’s nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college preparatory Tutor Corps Program have become models for communities serving similar demographics.

“Really, it’s more than the food that we’re serving them,” Debbie said while helping package meals for families. “It’s providing additional support and letting them know that as a community, we’re here for them.”

Dawn Montecalvo, president of Guadalupe Center, said support from the community is helping deliver exceptional results, like statistics showing that 95% of children meet or exceed kindergarten readiness measures and 94% of Tutor Corps students graduate with a postsecondary degree.

In a time of crisis, Dawn hopes the Tolers’ act of generosity serves as an inspiration to others in Southwest Florida.

“Take care of your family’s needs first, but if you have the ability and means to help others, please go ahead and do it,” she said. “There are so many families and children in Southwest Florida that are going to have a very difficult spring and summer, but coming together as one will help our community grow stronger.”

To help Guadalupe Center students and their families, please visit or call 239-657-7711.