Warsaw, Indiana—Cardinal Services, Inc., based in the rural community of Warsaw, Indiana, strives to enable challenged or disabled individuals to reach their personal goals. One of its largest programs caters to adults seeking employment. Cardinal Services offers the opportunity to earn an income doing piece or assembly work from partner companies. The organization serves 2,700 people every year.
Although Cardinal Services was enabling its clients to earn wages, the organization itself was struggling to raise sufficient funds. Direct mail and special events were bringing in roughly $8,000 per year.
Jane Wear, president and CEO, and Candy Townsend, director of development, knew they needed to find a different approach to fundraising. After conducting research, they decided Benevon was the best choice for Cardinal Services. Six years later, they still believe it is.
Their team has worked to perfect its Point of Entry tour, "Cardinal Connection." On the tour, attendees visit the organization's manufacturing workshop, where individuals with disabilities work to assemble various items. When tour guests try their hand at the work, they realize it isn't as easy as it might appear.
Wear and Townsend agree that the Point of Entry has made all the difference in spreading the word about Cardinal Services.
"I get people coming up to me who say, 'I've driven by this building for thirty-five years and never knew what you did here,'" Townsend says.
"And there are so many benefits that have come from getting people in," Wear adds. "We have gotten a lot of volunteers, business ideas, committee and board members, and people who want to be involved in some way with the people we serve. The Cardinal Connection tours help to expand our donor base further by giving us a chance to bring new people in."
Cardinal Services has also had success with its Ask Event, the Cardinal Call.
Townsend says that over the years the event has become "very smooth and has awesome testimonial speakers."
One of those speakers is Nora, a middle-aged woman who was born with intellectual disabilities, raised on a farm, and never taught to read or write. Her purpose was solely to raise children, and when she had done so she experienced a deep depression. Cardinal Services gave her a newfound sense of purpose by assisting her to get a job. She now revels in the simple joys of life such as ordering a fish sandwich from a drive-through, and watching cable television in her home.
Wear says that Nora's story has emerged in part thanks to coaching.
"Our coach always has really excellent recommendations for how to pull the audience in. We are always so impressed with the feedback we get on our Ask Event."
Cardinal Services' Ask Events have raised a collective $800,000, one hundred times more than the amount it was raising prior to Benevon.
Wear and Townsend work to keep their relationships with donors alive.
Wear keeps a major donor email list next to her computer, and she often sends those individuals updates on the organization.
"It's simple to do, and it lets multiple-year donors know you haven't forgotten about them. And that way you're not just making contact with them when you're asking them for money," she says.
Wear and Townsend continue to raise the bar on how much money they want to raise every year. Their ultimate goal, they say, is to secure a $20 million endowment, which would provide them with $1 million to use for operations each year.
"Our success is huge for a small community like this," Wear says. "If we hadn't gotten involved in Benevon we would be in terrible shape. Some of the clients who we have continued to sustain because of Benevon are the children of the families who started Cardinal Services. To have to go to those families and say, 'I'm sorry, we can't continue services for your child,' would be devastating. But it's Benevon that has enabled us to help those individuals continue in the program."
Wear and Townsend say that working with Benevon is an evolutionary process.
"It's just one bite at a time," Townsend says. "And not losing faith that it's going to work."
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