"There was a lot of work on the front end, getting our tour up and running, getting people in the doors, but it's really exciting to be able to showcase our mission in a way that's tangible, that people can really walk away with in an hour, learn about what we do," Zollman says. "And it's easy with the follow-up call to get other people to come out. So that was really surprising: I thought it would be hard to find people to come in and want to be on the tour, but we sometimes have problems where we don't have enough seats."
"Most of our staff is out in the community—about 85% is out there, serving people in their homes," Respress adds. "They now have a place to bring people, and to have a way to show their work in a different way. I have been surprised by how many staff have been the point of contact in bringing people in for a tour, and that is just really phenomenal."
The organization, which provides housing and support services to 2,000 individuals each year who are homeless or at risk for homelessness in Washington, DC, has accomplished a lot since attending a Benevon 101 workshop in October 2013.
"What we are most proud of having accomplished with Benevon is having a system in place for really building true relationships with our current and future donors," Zollman says. "We definitely have seen an increase in our visibility in our community, even in the short time that we've been with Benevon—folks knowing more about our work and our mission. I think also most significantly, is the creation of, the beginning foundation of, a culture of philanthropy here at Pathways, really at every element, from the people we serve, to our staff, to our board…everyone is really on board with Benevon."
Respress has seen an impact on their board, as well. She admits that prior to working with Benevon, their board was under pressure to ask their friends and colleagues for money.
"It didn't feel very good, and they weren't very excited about it, but they did their duty," she says.
Now, the board has new ways to support the fundraising efforts at the organization. They invite people to Point of Entry Events, and share the mission of the organization with those they meet in the community, without asking anyone for money.
"They've seen the results and I'm appreciative that our board was willing to trust the process and try something new," Respress says. "But now that we have the results, they are 100% bought in, and that's been really exciting."
All of their hard work and dedication to their Point of Entry Events in the first year paid off at their first Ask Event.
"I think what it comes down to is, following the Benevon Model and staying true to the model, you will be a success, and I think that is very much what we were nervous about when we first came to the 101 training: how could we possibly get 200, 250 people in a room, and get many people to join our Multiple-Year Giving Society, and really pull it all together in a short amount of time?" Zollman says. "But I think what the Ask Event really allowed us to do was see the culmination of bringing people in through our Point of Entry tours. And we were wildly successful, and we're really excited and encouraged for our 201, for the Ask Event to come."
Zollman has this advice for groups considering the Benevon Model:
"As long as you trust the process and you're ready to work really hard, you will see the results. And my favorite is that follow-up is key. What it showed us is that anyone can do it, you just have to be ready to do it."
These organizations have generously contributed their stories with the understanding that our readers will not contact them directly. Instead, please contact us with your questions. Thank you for your consideration.
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