Alumni and friends--not distant foundations or corporations--are the best source of funds for needy student organizations, said members of a panel on community service fundraising yesterday at Phillips Brooks House.
"The people most likely to give to your organization are the people closest to your organization," said Assistant Dean for Public Service Judith H. Kidd.
Kidd recommended a "concentric circle" strategy, focusing fundraising efforts on those with the most direct contact with programs--such as volunteers, parents, alumni and past donors.
Kidd was the Chief Financial Officer of City Year before accepting her position at Harvard, and has extensive experience in the non-profit financial realm.
The panel also featured Nancy Couch of the University Development Office and four students with experience fundraising for community service organizations.
"[Raising money] has got to be fun, and that involves a lot of creativity," said Adam N. Jiwan '01 of Project HEALTH, a community service group. "It's really got to be worth doing."
Jiwan advised groups to consider planning social events because "people want to socialize."
He recommended finding a specific niche, like CityStep's annual formal ball.
Amy Chung '98, an organizer of Leverett House HAND, said that "selling things is a good way to make money, because you can buy low and sell high."
Couch, drawing on her development experience with PBHA and the Harvard College Fund, said that maintaining constant contact with alumni is essential to successful, long-term fundraising.
"Even if it's only a phone call a year--amazing," Couch said. She recommended that groups keep carful records of members, whose addresses can then be tracked on the University database.
Couch specifically mentioned the fundraising value of a presence on the Internet.
A development office survey shows 80 percent of the College's alumni are online, she said.