How Kari Vincent Keeps the United Way of South Hampton Roads Moving Forward
By Abbie Hacker, Client Manager, The Curtis Group and
Kari Vincent, Foundation and Major Gifts Manager, United Way of South Hampton Roads
We are excited to introduce a brand new series written by you. It’s called “A Day in the Life of…,” a series where we look into what it is like to be a fundraiser in various capacities at various organizations. We hope you gain some insight, ideas and inspiration.
Today, I interviewed Kari Vincent with the United Way of South Hampton Roads. Kari’s primary role is coordinating the United for the Future Campaign. She manages day-to-day campaign activities, coordinates visits for staff and volunteers and works closely with staff, volunteers and our team to ensure they have the information they need to cultivate and solicit donors. She has been with the organization for over a year, and with her support, they have raised over $22 million toward their campaign goal in the first year.
What is your favorite part of working at United Way?
I love being part of the non-profit sector. A huge passion of mine is being part of the solution. In this particular role, I love working with our inspiring volunteers on the Campaign Leadership Committee. They not only care about helping others, but they’ve stepped up and invested in the community and dedicated their time to inspiring others to step up as well. Helping them succeed keeps me motivated.
What are the three most important aspects of your job?
Paying attention to all the details – When I started in this role, I had no idea that I would be listening to every conversation, even those not directed to me, in order to capture all of the details. The small details and comments are often the most valuable for follow up and stewardship. It is important for me to hear, capture and track that information. I realize that our staff and volunteers are extremely busy, and they focus on the big picture. It’s my responsibility to capture the details and remind them of the small stuff as they go.
Communication – I am responsible for sharing all relevant information with our volunteers. I have to find balance between sharing all of the pertinent information and over communicating. I have developed a standard check in process with volunteers. I touch base with each volunteer at least one a week, and often much more than that. By checking in with volunteers regularly, they don’t have to stress over what happens next. It’s my job to focus on that, so they can focus on the big picture.
Organization – I have processes in place for capturing information, tracking information and reporting information. I need to be able to quickly reference my notes and records in order to provide requested information to staff and volunteers. Things happen quickly around here!
What is one thing you wish other people knew about your role?
I am a big processes and procedures person. When I started in this role, I wanted to create standard operating procedures right away in order to establish structure. What I quickly learned is that this role is dynamic and ever changing, so I can’t follow a set structure. I have to be flexible, independent and motivated to stay busy. Even when its slow, I audit my work and activities to ensure I’m not missing anything. Every cycle is busy and different. We may not be able to predict what is coming next, so I need to be prepared for whatever happens.
What is the most rewarding moment that has happened since you started at UWSHR?
I didn’t foresee the level of success we’ve achieved in just over a year – over $22 million! I’ve never seen gifts of this size, especially in such a short amount of time. I was prepared to put in a lot of work to reach each milestone, but I didn’t know how rewarding it would be to see the outcomes of these efforts. Our staff and volunteers are 100% committed and excited about each and every gift. It’s exciting to be part of it!
How would Campaign Leadership Committee members describe your role?
On several occasions, Campaign Leadership Committee members have described me as the engine that keeps everything going and on track. I keep everyone motivated, organized and serve as the central knowledge base for the campaign. I am the informational hub for the campaign.
“The campaign coordinator role is vital to the success of any major fundraising effort. Kari keeps our volunteers and committee leadership motivated, organized and moving forward. Our incredible success to date is in large part due to this role and Kari’s ability to keep us focused!”
– Joan Brock
While I am the campaign hub for volunteers, The Curtis Group is the hub for staff. I wouldn’t be successful in my role without their guidance and support. We ask for advice daily, often multiple times a day. The relationship that we have with and the support we have from The Curtis Group is a must. Our campaign wouldn’t be successful without it. The Curtis Group provides the strategy, structure and expertise we need to reach our goals. We implement the processes put in place by The Curtis Group in other areas of our work. They are here for the organization as a whole, not just the campaign.
What advice do you have for other organizations that are considering a campaign?
I think it’s critical for an organization to invest in a role to manage day-to-day campaign activities. It is important to have this role in place as the campaign gets underway, in order to be part of campaign strategy and planning. The person in this position should have historical knowledge of the organization and be able to get up to speed quickly. You must know what is important to capture and what support the team, both staff and volunteers, needs to be effective.