Posts Tagged ‘florida’

Social Media and Fundraising: The Florida Aquarium

September 4, 2012

Mark Haney

Continuing my pursuit of how social media can be used to raise cold hard cash – or not – I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Haney, Vice President of Advancement at The Florida Aquarium. I will admit to being distracted by the stingrays entertaining visitors in front of us, but it made me aware of what a picture-intense, storytelling powerhouse opportunity the Aquarium has in social media. So what are they doing?

Tweeting It Up

A couple of years ago the aquarium hosted a Tweet-up event. They invited all of their Twitter followers and some hand-picked bloggers to join them at the Aquarium for free. The friend-of-friend reach was fantastic. Their Facebook page, which had fewer than a hundred friends a few years ago, as of this writing has 25,537 likes with 1,086 people talking about them. The objective was to raise awareness – and the Tweet-up did a great job of it!

Asking for Cash Gifts+

This growth in social media activity is important for the Aquarium because direct mail is a small percentage of their fundraised dollars. Especially through Facebook, Mark tells me they have been very successful promoting their special events. But they have also been able to use social media to raise cash gifts.

Remember the cold Florida winter of 2009-2010? More than 4,000 sea turtles were distressed by the cold and needed help. The Florida Aquarium sent the message out through Facebook and Twitter asking for all kinds of help, including cash gifts. The Aquarium raised $5,000 in less than a week! It was a time-sensitive, specific ask – and it worked. Social media is extremely low cost compared to traditional direct mail.

Mark mentioned a relative newcomer to social media platforms – Pinterest. The Aquarium hasn’t made a plan yet, but the picture appeal of animals is transparent. How to raise money from Pinterest is not clear, but I’m confident they will figure it out!

About Those Major Gifts

But what about major gifts? Is the Aquarium using social media in their major gifts program? Mark told me that they have been successful at getting traditional media coverage of their major gifts. Now they are piggybacking on this success and using social media to expand the reach of those messages. As we were wrapping up our conversation on the subject, Mark took me to see the Aquarium’s donor recognition board.

The Florida Aquarium Donor Recognition Board

Wow! We couldn’t get close and play around with it because there was a mom and her son engrossed in a digital game just beneath it. The Florida Aquarium has a digital donor recognition board made up of four panels. As you can see from the picture, the left panel currently has the various gift levels which also line the tops and bottoms of the other panels. Because it is digital it can be completely changed at any time.

The truly exciting bit is that coverage of major gifts could be used in all sorts of ways with the digital display. Major donors could be interviewed, benefits touted and pictures displayed. Mark couldn’t resist another benefit of the digital donor recognition board – revenue! When the Aquarium hosts events the board can be rented out. Plug and play makes it all possible.

Coming up next…

Visiting The Florida Aquarium is always a fun time and Mark took me out the long way, showing me the new animals. My next member interview is with an entirely different kind of organization. Justine Burke and Jim Alexander from Metropolitan Ministries share how they use social media to raise more gifts. Their tactics may surprise you.

Other Posts of Interest

Social Media and Fundraising: Tampa Metropolitan YMCA

About the Author, Jen Filla

Jen Filla is a roving reporter on the AFP Suncoast Communications Committee. She is president of Aspire Research Group LLC where she uses her direct fundraising experience to help you close major gifts, translating your donor information into actions you can take to raise more money now!

An Author in Our Midst: Bill Faucett in the Membership Spotlight

June 7, 2012

I bet you didn’t know that one of our AFP Suncoast members was a five-time published author, did you? Bill F. Faucett, Ph.D., CFRE, Director of Endowment and Planned Giving at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts just published his fifth book in May and I had the privilege of interviewing him!

Filla: The Northeastern University Press just published a biography you wrote entitled George Whitefield Chadwick: The Life and Music of the Pride of New England. Why did you choose Chadwick?

Faucett: I was a musicology student when I first heard his Second Symphony, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  Chadwick was one of the leaders of a group of composers in New England that flourished from about the end of the Civil War until World War I.  Although mostly forgotten today, his music is really outstanding–personal, beautiful, and expertly crafted.

Filla: I understand this isn’t the first book you’ve written. How many have you written and how did you get started?

Faucett: This is my fifth book, and my fourth (and last!) on the topic of Chadwick.  Writing has always been a hobby and a passion, and my love of music and history comes together to provide something to write about.
My wife likes it because it’s less expensive than golf!

Filla: Does fundraising for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts give you inspiration for your writing?

Faucett: It really does!  Many of the artists on our stages have gone through quite a bit to get to where they are, and most of them have very compelling stories.  Chadwick was not unlike them.  He struggled to make
a name for himself in a place and an era that was not only extremely tumultuous, but had little understanding of what it took to compose symphonies in America.  He persevered and ended up making a crucial impact on our artistic landscape.

Thanks for sharing Bill!

Click here to order your copy online!

Relationships are one of the keys to success

August 8, 2011

Sara Leonard

by Sara Leonard.

I’d like to express my deepest thanks to the Suncoast Chapter for providing me with a scholarship to attend the AFP Planet Philanthropy Conference in Jacksonville this year. The application process was easy to complete and I received notification very quickly. I found Planet Philanthropy to be a valuable conference. Our chapter participated in the creation of this conference and since that time it has remained affordable and convenient.

The benefits I received from the conference include:

Networking – this conference provided an opportunity to catch up with some old friends and meet some new people, all of whom enhanced the educational value because they shared so much useful information. The exhibitors provided a great chance to see what is out there to help us with the challenges we face.

Education – the conference sessions were relevant and presented by experts.  From tried and true fundraising methods like bequests to the latest technology like social media, I brought home a long list of practical ideas to implement immediately.

Inspiration – the keynote speakers left me energized and inspired to take on new challenges  Carla Harris, a Jacksonville native and Wall Street executive, shared peals of wisdom from her book Expect to Win. I thought the following were especially applicable to the great networking AFP provides us:

Relationships are one of the keys to success…Your network gives you power and is one of the most important competitive advantages you can have in business.  Be willing to offer your assistance and also to receive it from others. Networking is a two-way street.”

Thanks to my chapter for this opportunity and for the great network you are to me!


Presented by Sara Leonard of MOSI at the July 19, 2011, AFP Suncoast chapter meeting.

Spotlighting Melanie Lachs

August 29, 2010

Melanie Lachs

I tracked down Melanie Lachs, Grants Manager at The Florida Aquarium at the August 17, 2010 AFP Suncoast chapter luncheon. Why was I stalking an innocent member of our chapter? Because she is a NEW member of course! Read on to learn more about Melanie.

Why did you join AFP Suncoast?

Melanie has been grants manager for years now. But she has attended a number of the AFP Suncoast chapter meetings and it has helped to expand her interests in fundraising. She thought it was time to join officially.

What was your favorite vacation ever?

She took a vacation to New York City with her sons, ages 15 and 18 years. Her family is from New York and she wanted to share some of their heritage with them. They stayed in the theatre district and one of her most memorable moments was when they visited the John Lennon Memorial.

What do you like best about your work?

Melanie loves her job! Through her grant writing she gets to learn about many different areas of the Aquarium such as the coral ecosystem, conservation and children’s programs.

Debbi goes Boca!

July 6, 2010

Debbi Ricci, Director of Finance and Operations at Charlotte Community Foundation, was the lucky recipient of a scholarship to Planet Philanthropy 2010 in Boca Raton which was donated by AFP Suncoast president, Melody Marrs. Debbi was kind enough to share her thoughts and thanks, reproduced below.

Dear Melody and Lisa,

What a warm and wonderful experience I had at Planet Philanthropy, the AFP Florida Caucus 2010. Just imagine 400 fellow AFP members, all together to network, learn, and enjoy each other’s company. The venue was the Boca Raton Resort, absolutely elegant, and the June weather was steamy but sunny. After all, we were inside the Mizner Center during the hottest part of the day, and we had access to pools, the beach, and the lush green gardens of the resort after hours.

A member of AFP for two years, I have set my sights on attaining the CFRE certification that AFP has to offer. Lisa Intagliata and her committee did a fabulous job organizing everything. Events and activities ran smoothly. It was a difficult task to choose from the 71 Educational Sessions available, all levels of experience were covered, and the tracks were all-encompassing: Annual Campaigns, Capital Campaigns, Government Relations & Corporate Giving, Planned Giving, Senior Leadership & Management, Technology, Board Development & Volunteerism, Major Gifts, and Private, Family & Community Foundation Giving. We spent two full days in Educational Sessions, and were treated to program speakers and roundtable discussions at every meal. The opening reception combined refreshments, exhibitor booths, and “checking in.” The 30 exhibitor booths were available for three days to browse and many offered door prizes – there was even a casino table and Chinese auction. No wonder it took a committee of 40 people to tie it all together!

Most of the sessions I attended centered on Planned Giving and Major Gifts, a field I plan to move into as I develop my fundraising skills. However, I couldn’t resist some other sessions with names like “Community Sleuthing,” “Fundraising Partnership between Board and Staff,” and “Guerilla Marketing.” Curbside Consulting was also available, but I didn’t want to miss a moment of the educational sessions to explore that one-on-one option. 13 credits toward the CFRE certification were just a portion of the value I gained from this experience.

I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to Melody Marrs, Vice President of Development at the Hillsborough Education Foundation. She won a scholarship to Planet Philanthropy while attending the International AFP Conference in Baltimore last April. She donated the scholarship to our brand new Florida AFP Charlotte Harbor Chapter as a “welcome to the family” gift. How thoughtful and generous. That scholarship allowed me to participate for the entire event, immersing myself in so much encouragement and training in the many fundraising fields that AFP has to offer. I dream that every member of our chapter will attend next year.  What a giant step up that would be for the professional fundraisers in our nonprofit community!

-Deborah M. Ricci
Director of Finance and Operations
Charlotte Community Foundation, Inc.

Did you see the Ntl Philanthropy Day pix?

January 4, 2010

Here are just a couple of pictures from National Philanthropy Day in November 2009. It gave me goosebumps all over to see so many of the fundraisers I know hosting their best donors for this luncheon. The current of excitement that day was palpable!

Hinks and Elaine Shimberg

In the picture above, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay’s David Fischer and emcee Gayle Sierens present the Philanthropist of the Year Award to Hinks and Elaine Shimberg who stand beside Grant Martin, President of AFP Suncoast.

Thomas Burley

In the picture above, Grant Martin, President of AFP Suncoast presents the Youth in Philanthropy Award to Thomas Burley.

These new members are all wet!

August 25, 2009

I missed the July chapter meeting, but you couldn’t keep me away from sunny Florida in August! And I learned how some new AFP Suncoast chapter members are keeping their cool. They are staying wet at The Florida Aquarium. They were so enthusiastic they brought colleagues and nearly dominated an entire table at the meeting!

Mark Haney

Mark Haney

What is your reason for joining the chapter?
Mark G. Haney
is Vice President of Advancement at the Florida Aquarium. He recently relocated to the Tampa Bay from Miami. Mark joined AFP when it was called NSFRE and he didn’t think twice about joining the Suncoast chapter after moving here.

Describe an ideal day in your life.
A good day for Mark is one spent with donors, but any day of the week he enjoys getting to know people.

What was your favorite vacation ever?
Without hesitation, Mark told me his favorite vacation was to the Ozarks in Missouri. He called it hill-billy country with such affection that I might have to check it out for the future.

Judy Anderson

Judy Anderson

What is your reason for joining the chapter?
Judy M. Anderson
is Manager of Annual Giving at the Florida Aquarium. She joined AFP in February. She comes to The Florida Aquarium from the corporate world and is looking forward to getting connected through the Suncoast chapter.

Describe an ideal day in your life.
Judy is just excited to start getting to know the people, places and ideas that are in her new world of philanthropy.

What was your favorite vacation ever?
To say that she went on a “cruise” would be misleading. Judy spent seven days in the Caribbean on a boat whose only occupants were the crew, Judy, her husband and a few of their friends. Perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving!