by Joanne Wilson
From the Editor: Joanne Wilson is a longtime Federationist who has served with distinction in many capacities whenever the organization has asked or whenever she has seen an unmet need. She went to Louisiana and transformed our affiliate from a brooding, fighting, and suspicious group dominated by localitis and an us-and-them mentality into one of our most dynamic affiliates. She founded the Louisiana Center for the Blind, served as the head of the Rehabilitation Services Administration under President George W. Bush, and currently serves as the director of affiliate development for the National Federation of the Blind. Like the rest of us she is putting a lot of effort into figuring out how to fund the programs we operate that are essential in advancing the agenda of blind people. Here is what she has to say about a new weapon in our fundraising arsenal:
The National Federation of the Blind always steps up to get the job done. Many affiliates are actively working to assist in finding new financial support for our national movement, and we have just launched a new program that should allow each of our affiliates to make a difference. The National Federation of the Blind has launched a vehicle donation program which allows us to accept car donations anywhere in the United States. Our national office and our affiliates have been turning car donations away because we have not had an effective program for managing these donations and turning them into cash for the organization. We have now solved this problem, and we need your help to take advantage of this opportunity.
After extensive research the Federation has made an agreement with Vehicles for Charity to process our car donations. Besides cars we also accept vans, RVs, motorcycles, dirt bikes, boats, trucks, and tractors. However, it is up to us to capture the donors by promoting the fact that we can accept vehicle donations and finding creative ways to get the word out.
I am asking you to take some immediate steps to help with this effort:
As we move into spring, we will be building this program and providing you with more details, including supporting materials. We are starting with the tried and true Federation local outreach to get the word out. As we build success with this venture, we will have the capacity to consider other forms of promotion such as advertising. Consider this notion: If fifty-one of our affiliates (unfortunately we cannot operate the program in Puerto Rico) generate ten referrals with an average donation value of $500, we are talking about better than $250,000. This is easily within our capacity in 2013. Maryland has already generated one donation, and all we did was answer the phone and have the ability to say, “Yes, we can take your donation,” rather than turning it away. Imagine what we can do with some Federation creativity and enthusiasm. Let’s start calling in the cars!