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Do you know Sandy Rees?

March 31st, 2010 Posted in In The Spotlight

Sandy redSandy Rees is a fundraising coach and consultant whose passion is showing small nonprofit organizations how to raise more money, strengthen their Boards and build relationships with donors.

Sandy is also an accomplished presenter and an Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Master Trainer, and has conducted fundraising seminars for America’s Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee, AFP International Conference and the Amputee Coalition of America. In October 2009, Sandy traveled to Russia to speak to Master School of Fundraising in Moscow.

In addition to speaking at local, regional and national events, Sandy has authored several fundraising books, including “Fundraising Buffet: A Heaping Helping of 101 Practical Ideas to Increase Donations and Deepen Donor Satisfaction.” She also produces a bi-monthly e-zine titled “Hot Ideas for Fundraising” and has written articles for various magazines and newsletters. Sandy was recently named one of the “2010 Inspiring Women Bloggers to Watch” by WE Magazine for Women.

Sandy obtained her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) certification in 2003 and volunteers with several community organizations, including Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR), Lost Sheep Ministries, Loudon County Habitat for Humanity, Horse Haven of Tennessee, the Blount County Chamber Foundation and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Smoky Mountain Chapter.

Learn more about Sandy at

What sets you apart from other fundraising coaches or consultants?

I focus on helping small nonprofit organizations raise money by teaching the basics of fundraising and the importance of staying positive. I’m known for making things simple and giving people the encouragement they need to be successful. All too often, development directors get bogged down with the challenges and setbacks of the job and forget the reason they are so committed to making a difference. I provide simple, yet very effective, fundraising tools and advice that connect the organization with donors so both have the opportunity to really impact the community.

Why is it important to have a fundraising coach?

Fundraising coaching is a special kind of executive coaching that helps development directors and/or executive directors make decisions about their resource development plans and get focused on their goals. It simply provides coaching around issues of fundraising.

With a fundraising coach, you’ll have someone who will help you discover your own solutions by asking thought-provoking questions. Coaching isn’t about giving you the answers or molding you into something you aren’t. Instead, it’s about bringing out what’s already inside you, and helping you become the person you were meant to be.

Here are some of the benefits you can reap from a relationship with a Fundraising Coach:
• A good night’s rest instead of laying awake worrying.
• A sense of peace instead of a knot in your stomach.
• A game plan for raising money instead of just hoping that things will work out.
• Stronger relationships with co-workers.
• A shift to being proactive instead of being reactive. You’ll be able to spend more time on the things you planned to work on, instead of putting out fires all day long.
• The ability to engage volunteers in committee work and support them to take on more challenging roles with your organization.
• The ability to delegate tasks to others and trust that they will get done. And, the skills to follow up with others to ensure that tasks are completed.

Coaching is effective for people who want to make change but aren’t sure how to do it. Sometimes the change that needs to happen most is inside ourselves.

How do you respond to the complaint about the economic downturn negatively affecting fundraising?

It’s so important for us as fundraisers to stay positive right now. I find myself purposely ignoring the news because I don’t want to fill my mind with the negativity. I’d much rather focus on the positive.

Organizations have got to keep sharing the stories of their magnificent work. They must show donors they are staying the course, being efficient and proactive and helping them understand how their donation makes a difference.

The important thing is to stay focused on the work the organization is doing. Don’t give in to the doom and gloom. If you start believing that you can’t raise money in this economy, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What’s your advice for an organization struggling to raise money?

Fundraising can be difficult in the best of times. But now, it can be even more difficult. Here are a few things to remember.

First, DO NOT give into fear. Lots of people are afraid right now. If you get scared and back off from your fundraising activities, then you can forget it. You must stay positive and stay focused. Yes, unemployment is high, but 90% of the population is still employed. The sky is not falling. It’s going to be okay.

Go back to the basics of fundraising. Craft a simple, clear message about the work your organization is doing, then share it! Tell your stories. Tell your donors how your nonprofit is changing people’s lives with their help.

Give donors the chance to give. Don’t assume that they won’t give as much or as often as in previous years. Keep giving them the chance to give through direct mail, newsletters, online and personal requests.

Truth is, while some nonprofit organizations are struggling, there are some who are doing great, because they stuck to the basics and weren’t afraid to think big and ask big.

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