Be Strong, Sound and Secure: Supporting Uvalde

As I write, the nation is reeling after a young gunman shot and killed 19 school children and 2 adults in Uvalde, Texas. I have received concerned emails from friends across the nation. And I have listened-in on conversations with elected officials struggling to find answers and to respond to questions about how this could have happened, and how we might stop future occurrences of gun violence.

Uvalde is a beautiful city located west of San Antonio. In years past, I visited Governor Briscoe and his bank there, First State Bank of Uvalde. By way of background, the bank came under control of the Briscoe Family in 1960. It has a distinguished history and was founded in 1907. I know personally that during our nation’s economic downturn ca. 2010 (which is when it reached Texas in my opinion), some of my prior donors moved their money to First State Bank of Uvalde for safekeeping, trusting its conservative and smart leadership.

Inauguration of Governor Briscoe in 1972 by Jay Phagan, Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia notes, “During his two terms as governor, Briscoe balanced increasing demands for more state services and a rapidly growing population. As the governor elected during a period of social unrest and skepticism about the motives of elected officials, he helped restore integrity to a state government fallen into disgrace as a result of the Sharpstown scandals [stock fraud]. Briscoe’s terms as governor led to a landmark events and achievements, including the most extensive ethics and financial disclosure bill in state history, passage of the Open Meetings and Open Records legislation, and strengthened laws regulating lobbyists. Briscoe also presided over the first revision of the state’s penal code in one hundred years.”

You may have read my blog article, A Brief Account: Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. In that discussion, I share my professional experiences with Governor Briscoe and my prior work with the South Texas Council, Boy Scouts of America. At the time, we eagerly sought Governor Briscoe’s participation in a video featuring civic leaders across Texas, who gave testimonials about the merits of Scouting. Our interview with Governor Briscoe was one of the most memorable of that particular project, and of our lives. In truth, we thought we might not get the appointment to interview and film him, as he did not agree to meet with many. But we were ultimately approved, and our BSA team met with the Governor at First State Bank of Uvalde in his private office.

The tragic events of May inspired me to remember that experience, and Governor Briscoe’s advice.

… “Those who have had the benefit of the Scouting experience are not the problems of the present, and do not become the problems of the future. Today, our State government and its taxpayers support a very expensive system of enforcing law and order, a judicial system and a penal system. If we were able to reach more young boys with the Scouting program, the cost of those programs would decrease dramatically.

Those who have benefited from the Scout program do not create problems, nor do they require additional law enforcement that jams and clogs the judicial system, or overpopulate the penal system. The cost of government in the future would be greatly reduced if the Scouting program reached a much larger percentage of our young people.

Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr.

My father was a Scout for five years. When I began working with the BSA, I immediately recognized the training my father had conveyed to my younger sister and me as children, as it came directly from Scouting! We often think today that Scouting is just for boys, but it has broadened its offerings to include girls. One of my favorite mantras from Scouting is, “leave no trace.” I live by that motto today when it comes to respecting the natural world. Having supported environmental education nonprofits for many years, I believe Scouting was the first, and it is one of the most effective environmental education organizations in the United States and the world.

If the young Uvalde shooter had been enrolled in Scouting and had the benefit of its ethical and life skills training, I believe the May tragedy would not have occurred. Yes, I know the BSA has experienced organizational challenges in recent years, but I also know it has become more rigorous than ever in carefully managing staff and volunteers. In my opinion, we need more Scouting for young people in the months and years ahead.

The tag line of First State Bank of Uvalde is, “Strong, Sound and Secure.” It was adopted during the mid-1980s when Texas faced a crippling real estate downturn. And I know a few of my prior donors found the bank secure place for investment during the economic downturn ca. 2010, as noted above. That is why, if you would like to contribute in support of the victims of the May shooting in Uvalde, I recommend the bank’s special fund:

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District created a bank account at First State Bank of Uvalde where people can send funds to shooting victims and their families. Funds can be sent electronically through Zelle using the email or through the mail to 200 E. Nopal St., Uvalde, Texas 78801. Make checks payable to the “Robb School Memorial Fund.”

First State Bank of Uvalde

Society will also be “strong, sound and secure” if it provides life skills like those offered by Scouting to young people across Texas and America. Scouting dovetails well with traditional school curriculum and it enhances it. Scouting provides mental strength and clarity, and vital skills young people will use throughout their lives. I have found Scouting also provides invaluable support for single parents – particularly mothers – raising young boys. And Scouting welcomes people of all faiths and socio-economic backgrounds. It is an incredibly valuable program.

Yes, I do think gun purchase should be restricted across the nation. The New York Times comments about mass shooters, “They fit in a critical age range — roughly 15 to 25 — that law enforcement officials, researchers and policy experts consider a hazardous crossroads for young men, a period when they are in the throes of developmental changes and societal pressures that can turn them toward violence in general, and, in the rarest cases, mass shootings” (June 2, 2022).

And yes, I also believe in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. But those allowed to acquire and use guns need to be properly trained and mentally fit. Our President and several Texas leaders have voiced the need for mental health solutions and monitoring going forward. I suggest that Scouting and similar programs be considered when it comes to developing “mental fitness” in young people everywhere.

Punishment is the last and the least effective instrument in the hands of the legislator for the prevention of crime.

John Ruskin, English writer (1819 to 1900)

Habits of Mind in Challenging Times … and Remote Locations

In 1999, I was recruited to South Texas by a headhunter. My task was to manage a multi-million dollar major gift campaign for three years. By myself.

While there are many affluent landowners and ranch visitors in South Texas, at the time there were relatively few people with major gift experience to work with them. Many of the office support available back then included well meaning but inexperienced staff when it comes to working with major gift donors.


I set up shop with the help of the local Walmart. A spacious rug, floor lamps and an artificial plant gave my office a quiet, comfortable and professional look. Culligan Water installed a hot-and-cold water dispenser. I brought homemade food to work for lunch and kept my office well stocked with coffee, tea and dry soup packets (and a candy jar for visitors). There were mostly fast food outlets in the area back then. However, I would like to put in a good word for the delicious potato-and-egg soft tacos with green salsa that I would sometimes pick up on my way in to the office at a local taco stand. Those were the best, and I still miss them.

With the Internet readily available, I was “good to go.” I came to call my office, “the air traffic control tower.” 

The institute for which I was working was mostly privately funded by a foundation, and minimally funded by the local university. I kept wondering – given the stellar board and advisory board members involved with this little institute – why outside consultants said it had no chance of raising major gifts. The institute had paid upwards of $80,000 for a feasibility study and case statement by a consulting firm, all of which were tossed out as being unhelpful. I had my job cut out for me.

On my own for three years, I literally lived on the Internet. I searched online and read from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every work day. My findings yielded not only major gifts for capital and endowment purposes, but also for research projects. I developed habits of mind that involved disciplined, factual research online. Many new donors were brought to the aid of the institute’s work, and many detailed grant proposals were formulated.


I find outsiders to the field of nonprofit development mistakenly perceive people like me are focused on organizing luncheons and “schmoozing” with donors. But the fact is, organizing and managing meetings and events comprises perhaps 5% of my job. Most of my work involves thoughtful research, the development of inspiring case statements, writing and designing communications pieces, developing mailing and emailing lists, grant writing, stewardship and the like. This requires “quiet time” and a focused, detail-oriented mind. For those contemplating development as a career, this paragraph is one of the most important I have ever written for you.

The fine art of nonprofit development – honed in remote locations like South Texas – helped prepare me for other major gift projects involving little or no staffing, and for challenging “work at home” times like the COVID 19 pandemic we are currently experiencing. What I discovered is the Internet is an invaluable nonprofit development resource. I remain glued to it today. There is no such thing as being “bored” when you have the Internet at your fingertips.

Working mostly without additional staff support in prior positions means I have also experimented with technological solutions to accomplish more done with less. When told something is “impossible,” I always believe there is a solution. And I have always found one! I occasionally find traditional fundraisers who still shun technology and social media. But I have found them invaluable components of my major gift activities today.

Tech Clubs Can Help

For the past several years I have been one of the lead volunteers for NTEN & NetSquared Nonprofit Tech Club Austin. My involvement with NTEN began ten years ago when two nonprofit organizations asked me to help identify constituent management software to manage their donor databases. I admit, I was stumped. But I contacted NTEN and was directed to a donor management system review co-sponsored with Idealware. I was so elated by this helpful resource that I became an NTEN fan and volunteer.

A few years later when I relocated to Austin, I agreed to volunteer for #NPTechClubATX. Being involved with the club means today, I have the privilege of meeting similar problem solvers focused on social good, and learning about their innovative solutions. I am hooked.

The mission of Nonprofit Tech Club Austin is to help nonprofits find cost-effective tech solutions and techniques to make their work easier, more secure and efficient. That means for the past several years, we have offered educational programs that involve digital solutions to daunting challenges like being unable to hire extra staff (but needing to get the work done anyway), raising donations easily and creatively online, better managing board meetings, volunteers, accounting functions and more. We are #ready.

Locally, we thank startup hub Capital Factory for its support in this regard. But Zoom and similar video conferencing services can also help. You can learn more about nonprofit discounts at TechSoup.

Here’s wishing you good health, a trustworthy laptop, and a strong Internet connection!

Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog includes many stories about doing more with less and technological solutions for the “remote” worker. If you have questions at any time, please let me know

Photographs illustrating this post are courtesy of Adobe Spark.