Amy Alanes is the Executive Director of the Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) in Berkeley, CA and a graduate of the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at JFKU’s Fundraising Academy. We recently caught up with Amy in search of some inspiring perspectives on philanthropy as well as insight into how one notable organization is weathering the current health and economic crisis. Read on to learn how the WCRC has kept itself going strong these past few months and to hear what keeps Amy inspired toward philanthropic work.
JFKU: What are some of the ways that Women’s Cancer Resource Center has responded to the COVID-19 challenges?
ALANES: When the shelter-in-place orders were first announced in mid-March, WCRC decided that we needed to find new ways to continue to support our clients. We quickly moved our programming, which includes support groups, free therapy, and wellness classes, to a virtual platform. We also modified our navigation and information & referral services. We have also been able to obtain a COVID-19-specific grant to support our emergency financial assistance program. We are working to meet the emerging needs of our clients as this pandemic unfolds.
JFKU: What is one thing your organization is doing in terms of fundraising that you have found to be successful, that you think could still be successful considering our current challenges, and that you would like to share with your nonprofit peers?
ALANES: WCRC has continued to consistently message our monthly giving program with donors through this pandemic. We need our supporters now more than ever and when donors sign up to give monthly, it helps WCRC have a source of reliable financial support. Our monthly program has grown by 16% since we began shelter-in-place in March. I encourage my nonprofit peers to focus on building a solid foundation in your monthly giving, major donor, and legacy programs and stay the course. Data shows that individual giving is much more sustainable long-term than reliance on corporate and foundation grants.
JFKU: Can you share your aspiration and motivation for being in philanthropic work?
ALANES: I have a servant’s heart. My entire career has been focused on serving those in great need. I feel honored to work in a field that allows me to connect with others, learn about what inspires them, and find ways to match them to the causes they believe in. The collective heart of humanity inspires me to keep going—even through tough times. I find deep joy in philanthropic work and love being able to encourage others to work together so that all people can have access to what they need to survive and thrive.
JFKU: How has SIP helped you address fundraising challenges and enhanced your outlook and perspective?
ALANES: The Sanford Institute of Philanthropy offers a great curriculum to help fundraising professionals strengthen their existing skills and learn new ones. I have benefited greatly from the ability to connect with other leaders in our nonprofit communities to support advocacy efforts, collaboration, and the sharing of best practices in our field.