One Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, I ate lunch with around 20 community leaders as we heard about ways to get involved in the work The STAR Center is doing in Jackson and beyond. It wasn’t a big group. It wasn’t an expensive meal or a shiny production. But anyone who has been involved in creating sustainable change knows how important it is to start small and remain consistent. I’m honored to be a member of the Century Club: a growing group of community leaders dedicated to funding scholarship efforts and providing counsel as the Star Center continues to extend the reach of their services.
The Century Club is a monthly donor program, in which donors are encouraged to give $30-$50 each month. The STAR Center currently grants $3,000 in scholarships every month, and the vision for the Century Club is to have 100 donors giving at least $30 each month. This would fully fund the current scholarship offerings and provide a foundation from which to build even more scholarship opportunities.
Even though it’s a simple concept, I believe the Century Club is a glimpse into the future of fundraising efforts for nonprofits. Donor Retention is a constant concern for charitable organizations, as only 19% of first time donors ever donating again. A monthly donor program like the Century Club gives a much greater chance of maintaining relationships with donors in the long term. When you take into account a low cost of entry and the ability to touch base with members over the course of the year, you’re sure to end up with donors who are committed to the work your organization does.
Obviously, retaining donors’ support is a huge win for a nonprofit. The less obvious benefit is that repeat donors have the unique opportunity to be public ambassadors for an organization. I’ve known The STAR Center’s President, Dave Bratcher, for a long time, and one thing that has always impressed me about him is his ability to get the community involved in the work he is part of. He’s the kind of person who is able to involve others in a cause in such a way that it becomes deeply personal for them. This is the other focus of the Century Club: it is intended to be a sounding board or focus group for new ideas and programs The Star Center is considering.
Organizations like the STAR Center are at their healthiest when they listen to their community. The Century Club is comprised of people who know and care for West Tennessee, and they have unique insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their community. As such, they are uniquely positioned to help a new program succeed on all levels. Questions of implementation and strategy. Who should be part of the planning process? These are the areas to involve the Century Club. We are not looking for rubber stamps and quiet donors. We want people who are deeply passionate about making a Jackson that includes everyone, regardless of ability or disability. We want people who will be our most enthusiastic participants and thoughtful critics, who will help us remain faithful to our mission statement: to help any person, with any disability, realize their potential.
If you are interested in attending one of our upcoming Century Club Luncheons, or if you know someone who would want to be a member of the Century Club, please send an email to David Knack, Manager of Marketing/Events, or give him a call at 731.554.5173!