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Alanna Kaiser, MSW

Alanna Kaiser, MSW

Manager of Individual Giving, Girls in the Game

Samantha Ganser, MPA
Head Editor, Major Gifts Today

Rising Star: Alanna Kaiser “Authenticity and Equity in Fundraising”

Alanna Kaiser, Manager of Individual Giving at Girls in the Game, Chicago, is an intelligent, joyful and authentic breath of fresh air. Interviewing Alanna through a screen did not stop me from feeling the giddy excitement she embodies about connecting with others for causes that matter. 

Tell me about your current role in fundraising, and what attracted you to the nonprofit and fundraising field specifically.

Sure! Right now, I’m our Manager of Individual Giving at Girls in the Game in Chicago, IL. I manage our auxiliary board, solicit gifts from around $1 to $5,000, develop our end-of-year appeals, and work to secure scholarships for the teens we serve. Girls in the Game has a lot of event and corporate fundraising opportunities that often overlap with individual donor fundraising. Basically, if there’s an individual donor involved in the conversation, I’m present to help manage this relationship. 

I was attracted to the nonprofit sector and fundraising because I love mission-based work! Through my MSW at the University of Michigan, I focused on community development – that is, ways to build stronger communities and understanding how nonprofits are such an essential piece of that since they fill in gaps where other types of funders and providers cannot. My most formative year ever was when I completed my AmeriCorps VISTA year of service at the Community Action Partnership in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Through this experience I learned that the bridge-building aspect of development work is a great fit for me.

So awesome. Give us some advice! Are there any trends in the fundraising field that really excite you right now? What are some values you consider essential to the professional practice of fundraising? 

Umm, yes there are! Community-centric fundraising is so important and something I’m really enjoying learning about. There is a lot of great information on the concept on this website, but essentially CCF is a fundraising model that’s grounded in equity and social justice. It prioritizes the entire community over individual organizations and encourages mutual support between nonprofits.

Strong relationship building is of course, a totally fundamental value in fundraising. More specifically, I think acting with authenticity and building a donor relationship from the ground up as you would any other relationship is key. Sometimes it can feel really tempting to dive in and ask a donor for money immediately, but I often remind myself to take a step back. Confidence is key in making the ask, but I want to be sure to do it at the right time.

Community-centric fundraising sounds like a fascinating concept. It seems like equity in fundraising, then, is really important to you. Can you tell me more about this? 

Absolutely. First off, the fact that we have to fundraise for organizations that are providing basic needs I think is alarming in and of itself, and there’s work that needs to be done outside of the nonprofit world on this issue. That said, the nonprofit world is a good place to start! Establishing equitable practices can entail a lot of things, from making sure we are paying nonprofit employees equitably to the way we are interacting with the communities and clients we serve, how we are telling our beneficiaries’ stories, and how we are applying donor funds. In my experience, inspiring a donor to direct their funds to the program that needs the most help is an easy ask! At the end of the day, donors want to do the best they can to make sure that their dollars are as impactful as possible. 

By the Numbers

Consider the recruitment opportunities for your organization that these stats indicate:

  • About 63 million Americans (25% of the adult population) volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.
  • These people spend an average of 52 hours/year volunteering.
  • 72% of volunteers are involved with only one organization, while 18.3% are involved with two.

Random interesting stats presented monthly from various sources.