Last weekend, my family and I went to a park nearby and walked, in the pouring rain, to help support suicide prevention. We even got our 16 year old to put her phone down, listen to the speakers and just walk with us.

Why did we participate in this event?

Someone I dearly love attempted suicide a while back, but if I’m being honest, that wasn’t the reason.

The real reason was my neighbor, Crystal.

Crystal is passionate about suicide prevention, about changing society’s perceptions of mental health and making it more acceptable to discuss problems that people have.

Because of yard signs, Facebook posts, conversations in the back yard, articles on the newspaper she and her husband Chris publish and more things that I am not remembering right now, we decided to participate in the Augusta County Walk to Prevent Suicide.

Really, because of Crystal.

We paid the donation/fee to join, did a little peer-to-peer fundraising on Crystal’s behalf and walked. Talking with the kids about what they had seen and heard was a very positive experience.

So why is Crystal so passionate? As she will tell you, she lost a twin sister to suicide years ago and it has always affected her and stayed with her. She would like nothing more than to eradicate the pain she has felt as a survivor for the rest of us.

Listening to her speak on that stage was incredibly emotional, and I know she had no trouble whatsoever meeting her fundraising goals this year.

Hopefully your employees and board members have Crystal-characteristics, but it’s critical to find Crystals within your donor database. Do you know who they are?

Leading candidates might be:

  • frequent volunteers
  • monthly donors
  • donors with high engagement rates
  • donors with frequent soft credits
  • peer-to-peer fundraisers
  • donors who notify you of a change of address or billing information
  • charitable giving to other organizations like yours

But don’t just wait for Crystals to emerge on their own. Sometimes they need a little help. Your time would be well served digging in a little and following up to find out why a gift was made unexpectedly, why this new volunteer suddenly showed up, or why this new staff person really wants a job with you.

Ask questions, send surveys and say thank you frequently. Find out what their passion is, and help them direct it for the benefit of the cause you are both passionate about.

After all, people give to people, not organizations.


James Goalder

James Goalder

Senior Account Executive at Bloomerang
James Goalder is a Senior Account Executive at Bloomerang. James serves on the Board of Directors of Project GROWS in Verona, Virginia, serves as a Sunday School teacher at his church and enjoys living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in the Western part of Virginia.