RAISING THE BAR: Lynne Donahue, Seaside Consulting founder and president, with social media and marketing specialist Aaron Cote. The 12-year-old company uses social media and other methods to help reach fundraising goals.
Coming up with creative solutions to fundraising challenges is what Seaside Consulting Inc., owner Lynne Donahue believes sets her work apart from the competition.
Last year, Donahue and Don Boucher, program director of Housing First, were sitting around brainstorming when his idea of doing some type of music video evolved into a bigger concept: inviting musicians from around the state to contribute songs to an album to bring out the visibility of the homeless. Donahue used social media to find songwriters, and even connected with someone who now contracts for graphic design with her: artist and contractor Travis Larkin.
The compilation CD, “EVERYONE Deserves a Home,” which raised awareness for the consultant’s partner, Riverwood Mental Health Services, and its Housing First Rhode Island program, in 2012, is a prime example, Donahue said. That effort, plus working with Riverwood and using outreach and talking to donors over the past several years have had the combined impact of helping double Riverwood’s resources, she said.
“We like to use creativity in creating the message,” she said, referring to the work she does routinely in collaboration with a handful of subcontractors.
Other types of creative work include compiling what is known in the industry as an “opportunity guide.” One Seaside has done for Shanti Mandir, a Walden, N.Y.,-based nonprofit which provides assistance to people in India, depicts in words, photos and graphics the nonprofit’s initiatives and projects. She’s also proud of one done for the Hopkinton Land Trust.
“We do a lot of writing and graphic-design work to explain to a potential donor what the opportunities are to work with a nonprofit,” Donahue said. “They’ve talked to donors and sent grants out, but this is a visual representation of the work they do,” she said. “It helps people here see how their dollars have an impact.”
The success is not only in the amount of money raised, however, though fundraising is a key offering. Rather, helping a worthy organization convey its needs clearly to the right audience is what drives Donahue.
“Raising money or being a good fundraiser is like being a good entrepreneur,” she said. “Not only do you have to have a good idea; you have to be able to articulate that and engage other people.”