After many years of work in the trenches of nonprofit fundraising, it would make sense that I would come up with my own project ideas. These began to take shape since 2010 when I moved from Corpus Christi to San Antonio, Texas and launched Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog. While these projects require my full involvement, others require less. Experienced partners and funders are welcome. All rights reserved.
If you have questions, contact me by using the secure contact form on this website.
Native Plants, Cemetery Restoration, Stone Masonry Repair, Historical Research and Education, Heritage Tourism and More
While wandering through the expansive historic cemeteries of San Antonio from 2011 to 2013 (see slide show), the idea came to me. Why not develop a sophisticated, multi-faceted project to restore historic Texas cemeteries, create jobs, educate the public and invigorate the local economy, all the while saving water and beautifying these largely untended plots of land?
Components might include:
- Use of water-saving native plants and create native plant (xeric) landscaping throughout, hiring native plant experts, gardeners and related contractors. Texas has water conservation issues and this could help educate citizens to the possibilities while reducing water usage in the cemeteries themselves.
- Hire stone masons and restore those monuments which were once so beautiful!
- Create attractive, educational websites telling the stories of those interred (hire more history graduates and web developers).
- Develop mobile apps for onsite self guided tours (as well as cell phone dial-in “tours”); enable mobile giving campaigns for ongoing repair and restoration.
- Bring school children for educational walking tours and other enjoyable events (we don’t provide enough education about the rich histories of the cities in which we live and the citizens who contributed to them).
- Revitalize neighborhoods with new businesses catering to cemetery research and tourism.
- Create new jobs throughout, and boost the economy and heritage tourism.
I do envision enlisting partner organizations to accomplish this project. Ideas might be the City of Austin, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Historical Commission, churches (some of which own the cemeteries), and Google, for instance. And I do not necessarily envision myself being the principal “manager” of this project.
Identifying an organization used to successfully managing multiple nonprofit and for-profit partners – from stonemasons to native plant experts, from historians and history students to city governments and technology companies – makes perfect sense. That central coordinating organization would best be nonprofit in nature, one capable of accepting and managing charitable grants and contributions. Having said this, I definitely intend on being involved in a consistent advisory capacity.
Photos in the above slideshow are mine.
Butterfly Print Project
Butterfly Print Project to Educate the Public and Provide Operational Funding for the National Butterfly Center
This project was conceived of by me, and subsequently, others have tried to claim credit for it, but regardless, I have put a personal “pause” on the concept until the controversies surrounding the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas subside. – July 1, 2022
This fine art print project was developed by me initially and I sought input from Mark L. Smith, one of the original founders of Flatbed Press in Austin and a classmate from The University of Texas at Austin. Another graduate school colleague, Dr. Constance Cortez, at UTRGV, has agreed to partner with us should we decide to go forward with it.
My sense is the fewer funding partners for this multiple year fine art print project, the better, but we are open to ideas. This is a name/brand opportunity, and it involves the creation of a documentary, a touring exhibition, and educational programs (regarding art and nature/conservation).
Until the controversies surrounding the Center subside, I have put a “pause” on this project. Questions? Email is best. Thank you for your interest!
EU Charity Lotteries for Texas and the U.S.
Charity lotteries in Europe are highly successful and they have a more ethical emphasis than lotteries in the United States today, including Texas. This project is not intended to reinvent the wheel, as it were. It would involve engaging the seasoned and sophisticated management team already working in Europe, to bring the charity lottery concept to the United States, with Texas as a test case for the nation.
I did share this idea with a colleague involved with the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Governor’s Office a few years ago. But my sense is, the scope would be more broad than just supplying funding for the arts. I realize I am not an expert in the field of charity lotteries! I would definitely engage local partners familiar with government regulations, lobbyists and more to see how this concept could become a reality with Texas as a starting point.
Artfuel: An Italian and American Partnership
Artfuel is an international fundraising project focused on the Tuscany region of Italy. With longtime friends in Milan, Italy, I began pondering how American donors might assist urgent needs for repair and improvement of museums and historic properties in Tuscany, and with confidence.
Our activities will be lean, focused and modern. I would be one of a team of three to implement Artfuel, which we would like to base from a contribution standpoint in Dallas at the Communities Foundation of Texas (designated fund that will receive and distribute donations to Italy). What is needed is funding for the team of three to set aside their time in a meaningful way to implement Artfuel. This project will require my concerted involvement.
We created a website (art-fuel.art) to outline project details. Interest is high from the Art Ministry, Tuscany Branch. Projects are posted on the website with proposed budgets. Once we complete this initial set of fundraising projects, we anticipate moving onto a new set, and so forth. It is possible other cultural heritage sites in Europe would be involved in future years.
Three Day Startup and Nonprofit Major Gift Fundraising
As you will discover in Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog, I have figured out ways to raise significant charitable funding without expensive consulting firms. From revamping the traditional “feasibility study” to making use of advanced research platforms, a well-organized nonprofit shop can accomplish amazing fundraising feats.
One eye-opening experience that informs my mindset about major gift fundraising was the 3DS Global Roundup at Capital Factory. Read, “Nonprofits and Startups | Birds of a Feather” (2017). In brief, participants in the 3DS workshop learn how to focus their minds and compose plans that inspire confidence on the part of investors. The model is a for-profit one, but I believe it dovetails perfectly with major gift fundraising and up-ends what nonprofit fundraising professionals are normally taught by traditional support organizations. My wish list includes the development of a course for nonprofit fundraisers using the 3DS model, and promoting it broadly in an effort to both modernize major gift fundraising and reduce nonprofit reliance on outside consulting firms.