Austin woman’s childhood abuse fuels her commitment to help others

Dena Dupuie, Austin Angels volunteer

[See original post at GivingCity Austin here]

Dena Dupuie of Austin wound her way through piles of trash filling the small mobile home. Though she’d been in many foster care homes, this was one of the worst.

“I was taken aback. I could hardly walk through the house,” she said. “You know why? Because they couldn’t afford $45 a month for trash pickup.”

Continue reading “Austin woman’s childhood abuse fuels her commitment to help others”

Show, Don’t Tell, You’re Making a Difference

babe in arms

Is your organization “making a difference?”

If so, can you find a new way to say it?

One of my most meaningful jobs was at a fundraising organization for a children’s hospital. If supporting a place that rescues kids from the brink of death isn’t “making a difference,” I don’t know what is. But my much-smarter supervisor refused to let us use that phrase.

“Every nonprofit says that,” she’d (accurately) point out. “We need to show how we’re making that difference.”

She was right then, and she’s still right.

A nonprofit mailer I just received invited me to join all the people “who are making a difference in the fight against premature births.”

twin babies

Wouldn’t a statement such as, “Become one of the millions who are making sure babies are born healthy” resonate more and reinforce the mission? Backed up by the story of a real baby born healthy because of the nonprofit’s intervention, this mailer will plant an immediate picture in my head: Babies are dying. I can help.

By seizing every opportunity to paint a picture or tell a story, you’ll do more than “make a difference.” You’ll grab someone’s attention long enough to communicate your message and inspire them to action.

Writer Makes You See What’s No Longer There

I’ve never wanted to go to Alabama. Until now.

I started reading “A march into history” by Scott Vogel of The Washington Post because of the subhead, believe it or not:

“Alabama women who lived it help give a 21st-century spirit to the civil rights struggle.”

The black-and-white photo showed only males, but because of the writing, I was intrigued by the idea of a story about strong women previously unrecognized by history. In several strokes of genius in what could be a primer on storytelling, Vogel aims to get an emotional reaction from his readers.

This is much more than an article about why you should visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute museum and research center.

Continue reading “Writer Makes You See What’s No Longer There”


university donor

“It’s About Time.”

That’s how Patricia Brennan See ’74 reacted when she heard that Butler’s vision for its Arts Center is to become Central Indiana’s arts and culture destination.

“Butler has had a stellar—and I mean stellar—arts program for decades, and it’s been under wraps. Now, we’re coming into our own,” said this alum and member of the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) Board of Visitors. “It’s time to get out there and show ourselves as the fantastic school we are.”

See generously supports ArtsFest and the Butler Community Arts School. And though she wasn’t an arts major, her family tree is as firmly rooted in the arts as it is in Butler.

Read full donor profile

(Photo: Brent Smith)

The Psychology Behind Storytelling

campfire story time

As a nonprofit professional, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that storytelling – sharing the real stories of real people whose lives were enriched by your help – is the best way to reach potential donors.

More and more, causes are using stories in their solicitations. So why do they sometimes not work?

Let’s first examine the psychological context to see why (when done well) real stories do work.

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Butler’s Researchers Tackle TB

chemistry students

Most of us get a TB test some time in our lives, and we go on our merry way, assuming it will be negative.

We don’t know how lucky we are.

Butler University Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeremy Johnson is searching for a way to spread that luck to the parts of the world where tuberculosis still kills more people than any other infectious disease: 1.5 million annually.

Read full story featuring this innovative work and a Professor Johnson focus article in Butler University’s donor magazine.

(Photo: Per Henning/NTNU) (CC BY 2.0)