Building a One-of-a-Kind Fundraising Strategy

Featuring Melinda Wiggins, Executive Director of Student Action with Farmworkers

About This Episode

 “Fundraising began to feel right when it was integrated with our mission” explains Melinda. “We’ve opted out of having a development director, because we value getting to know people, talking to them, and connecting them to projects and programs they’re interested in. It’s about relationship building. Everyone, from interns to staff to board members contributes.” Learn more about one nonprofit’s unique fundraising strategy. 


About Melinda

Since 1996, Melinda Wiggins has served as the Executive Director of Student Action with Farmworkers, which brings students and farmworkers together to learn about each other's lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change. Melinda helped create two key statewide coalitions--the Adelante Education Coalition and the Farmworker Advocacy Network--and is active with many other social justice groups such as the Windcall Residency Program. A granddaughter and daughter of sharecroppers, Melinda moved from the MS Delta to NC in 1992 to pursue a Masters of Theological Studies at Duke University. In March 2012, Melinda was honored by the White House as a recipient of the “Cesar Chavez Champion of Change” award.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Key questions answered in this episode:

0:46 - What’s your story of how you came to be a fundraiser?
3:02 – “Fundraising is about getting to know people, getting them engaged and educated about the issues…” Was this perspective present in the organization when you got there or was it something you helped to develop?
4:50 - One of the questions I often get from executive directors is “how do I find time for fundraising?” How do you think about this question? 
7:57 – Can you tell us how your staff, board, and anyone who wants to meet with you reacts to your rule of “no-meeting Mondays”?
10:32 – Both your staff and board have fundraising roles in your organization. Can you tell us how that works? What does that look like?
15;23 – You’re doing a lot of work to customize the fundraising strategy to the role: it’s not one-size-fits-all… How do you ensure everyone has a successful experience as a fundraiser?
18:29 - One of the challenges we see is getting board members involved in fundraising. In fact, the IDB project found that again only about 40% of board members are really engaged in this work. What kinds of things are your board members doing, and what kinds of support are you providing? 
22:57 – Can you tell us more about what kinds of fundraising data you’re looking at and what you’re learning from this?
26:26 – Tell us a little more about your work with Student Action with Farmworkers
28:07 - Any final words of wisdom?


You can view a full list of the previously released episodes here