Mentoring and Technical Assistance
Coalition member organizations had considerably different capacities and competencies for major donor fundraising. In the friendly but competitive environment of Blooming Art, where 30 organizations were literally featured side-by-side, small organizations without trained staff or well-connected boards did not fare as well as those more established organizations.
ARTWorks for Kids asked for help from nonprofit development professionals not in the coalition. Engaged as consultants, these experts provided needs assessments; developed tailored plans; and offered support at the showcase as needed.
The most successful mentorship engagements had a few consistent elements:
- Mentors had either previously worked with a coalition member or had experience with smaller nonprofits and understood their capacity constraints.
- The most successful partnerships resulted when mentorship was focused on the showcase itself. Coalition members focused on event-specific donor cultivation and then applied lessons learned to a fuller development strategy. Some organizations asked their mentors to help with broader strategies to start, but they did not raise as much money or meet as many donors through Blooming Art as their colleagues.
- Coalition staff and board members carved out dedicated time to working with their mentors.
“I am most indebted to our mentor. We have an action plan in place leading up to Blooming Art, and she’s going to specifically help me overcome my fear of talking to rich people.”