West exceeds major gift goals

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By Kristin Marguerite Doidge – 

This past fiscal year proved to be an especially generous one for The Salvation Army Western Territory in terms of major gifts, which help the Army continue to serve neighbors most in need. 

Nineteen of the territory’s donor relations directors secured more than $1 million in gifts while others were recognized for accomplishments such as “Best Collaborator” and “Rookie of the Year,” according to Debbie Rossi, Territorial Executive Director of Development. In total, the team raised 20 percent more than they did in the 2018 fiscal year.

“All the credit needs to go to the divisional level because they provided the major gift officers with the resources and the guidance that they needed,” Rossi said. “I think there was a lot more personal attention given this year, and I believe expectations were very clear. With all of those stars aligning, we had phenomenal results.”

Those results mean that important programming, such as services provided for the homeless and veterans will be able to continue, as well as other ministry services and initiatives as determined by each local corps. Rossi said that the increased brand recognition of the Army’s work during the recent California wildfires, for example, has been beneficial in helping donors see their dollars at work in the community in real-time.

Whether it’s by sharing a testimonial video through ShareChange or gifting a personalized scrapbook of photographs, it’s often the fundraisers’ passion that carries over most to donors, she explained.

“We’re bringing it to life for them,” she said. “They are always invited to come out and visit our services and our programs; however, they don’t always have the time, interest or ability. So we bring it home to them.”

MaBel Turner, a 25-year veteran of nonprofit fundraising and Donor Relations Director for The Salvation Army California South Division, is on the road on a daily basis through the holidays.

“And sometimes, because we deliver so many gifts to our donors during this time of year, if we don’t get to deliver all of them by Dec. 31, there are a few stragglers that we personally deliver for a ‘Happy New Year,’” she said.

Turner tries to do that in a number of creative ways, such as using craft items and small trinkets to make something festive and meaningful, yet simple and inexpensive: “I’m here to give you a little token of our love, and to thank you for all your support more than anything,” she said.

She also believes in attention to detail and keeping donors to speed on the latest news about the impact of their gifts year-round.

But it’s during Christmas especially that Turner and her colleagues really get to share that holiday cheer with the donors who mean so much. 

“You get to see the happy side of people and the giving side of people during this time of year,” she said. “And that’s that’s the best part, for me, anyway.”

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Commissioner Jolene K. Hodder Smiling Headshot

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