As the students walked across the stage, at the Commencement Ceremony in June 2014, all I could think about was “We did it again…We helped one more class along their way towards their dreams of graduating college!” And, it wasn’t easy, for the students or the faculty and staff. Yet, as I look back, it certainly was a labor of love.
Fast forward to January 2015 and we’re half way there to getting another class through. Yet, this time it’s different, we have larger goals in the Mission Advancement Office: $2.4M and planting seeds for future support. You see, we now know we can’t keep raising funds for the current year without laying a foundation for the future of fundraising at Verb. What does that mean? It means increasing Development staff and adding more opportunities for supporters to donate to Verb. So, in August 2014, we hired a new Development Assistant, Ms. Michelle Cordova, to help us expand our reach. Ms. Cordova has more than six years of experience in fund development working for such organizations as STOP CANCER. She is charge of one of the most important programs, Adopt-A-Student Program, as well as several other newer programs: Adopt-A-Teacher and our Planned Giving program cultivation. We are thrilled to have Ms. Cordova.
With the addition of Ms. Cordova, Ms. Stephanie Andrade, Development Associate, is freed up to do more higher-level development such as meeting with donors and writing grants. Ms. Andrade has been at Verb for over 13 years and is in charge of two very large programs, the Annual Mardi Gras Awards Dinner, which generated over $450K last year, and our Foundations program, which should generate $1.1M this year. With her institutional knowledge and fundraising acumen, she has proved herself invaluable to the Mission Advancement team.
Our big push for the second half of 2014/15 is the Mardi Gras event, Planned Giving, and our Adopt-A-Teacher Program. This year’s Mardi Gras will be held at the Biltmore in Downtown LA, where we are honoring Edison International and the Class of 2015. Since 2006, Edison has been a part of Verb’s Corporate Work Study Program, as well as showing support of our mission far beyond what has been asked of them. And, as you know, we honor the Class of 2015 because all that they have done to reach for their dreams of a college education. Planned Giving is important to the future of Verb because it allows donors to support the school in a significant way—through bequests, will, trusts, etc. These types of gifts often help on into the future. Our Adopt-A-Teacher Program, where we allow donors to support a specific teacher and their class for a year, helps connect supporters to what is actually happening in the classroom.
…And, after the Class of 2015, we, in Mission Advancement, will sigh in relief of a job well done, yet we will continue to try to expand our tools even further to raise even more support for resources for our students’ futures. Stay tuned…