Our next AFP August Appreciation spotlight goes to Aimee Dunsmore, Development Director of the Utah Arts Festival!
As a fundraiser for 11 years, she has witnessed firsthand the ever-changing methods of donor communication. "It’s not just letters, lunches and phone calls anymore, though that’s still a really important part cultivation and retention," Aimee says. "There are so many ways to reach people now and the opportunities to develop and maintain relationships with donors, are vast and constantly evolving with technology and social media."
With this in mind, she says her greatest challenge is strategizing donor communications while integrating donor communication preferences. "It’s incredibly exciting, but can also be a little bit daunting," explains Aimee. "I think a challenge we face is how to balance staying in front of our donors and reaching new donors in ways that are meaningful to them in such a fast-paced, ever-changing environment without losing our focus or organizational voice."
When Aimee started her position at the Utah Arts Festival, the organization had very few individual donors, and individual giving represented a very small portion of their contributed income. She saw this as a huge area for growth, and after much thought, analysis, discussion, and planning, she helped launch an individual giving program now called “Friends with Benefits." This, program, which has grown individual contributions by leaps and bounds over the past five years, is what Aimee cites as her greatest current accomplishment. "It has been really rewarding to see our whole team get behind this program (staff, board, and program coordinators) and to watch support steadily grow year after year," she adds.
Aimee says she's an AFP member because she believes being part of a community with varied experiences, information, and resources to draw from is essential to her ability to grow and succeed.
Today's August Appreciation spotlight goes to AFP Utah Chapter member Diane Parisi, Development Director at Pioneer Theatre Company!
Diane has been working as a fundraiser for 27 years, and her first job was with Utah Musical Theatre at Weber State University.
Currently, one of her greatest challenges is working in the nonprofit performing arts, where the business environment is both commercial and philanthropic. "We have to find ways to connect patrons with theatre in a way that helps them see the value beyond the mere investment of a ticket," she explains. "We try to focus on the patron first because it can’t just be about our value to the community, it has to be about our value to that patron."
Diane experiences her greatest sense of accomplishment when she has the opportunity to mentor novice fundraisers. "My own mentor, Patti Choate, had a tremendous influence on me in my early years as a fundraiser. It is very rewarding to witness the professional accomplishments of those I’ve mentored," she says.
When asked why she became a member of AFP Utah Chapter, Diane says, "AFP membership is comprised of so many wonderful and talented people. I value the opportunity to be a part of a professional community where I can commiserate, share ideas, and have 'lightbulb' moments."