The Loma Prietan - November/December 2011

Volunteers Raise $$$ for the Chapter

To fight for better local land use, stop local pollution, improve local transit, and preserve local open space, the Chapter needs local dollars.  They donât rain down on us from the Clubâs national office.  Here, phone bankers Janet Hoffman, Jason Spitzer, Bill Barrett, Larry Aronson, Dave Paradise, and Karen Maki take a break from calling you. They and other volunteers have made over 1600 calls.  Photo: Katie Dunlap
To fight for better local land use, stop local pollution, improve local transit, and preserve local open space, the Chapter needs local dollars. They don’t rain down on us from the Club’s national office. Here, phone bankers Janet Hoffman, Jason Spitzer, Bill Barrett, Larry Aronson, Dave Paradise, and Karen Maki take a break from calling you. They and other volunteers have made over 1600 calls. Photo: Katie Dunlap

Why do folks volunteer to spend their evenings calling other Chapter members for money? Because “The Chapter is a strong local force, protecting our local environment …”  Already, 16 volunteers at four phone banks have raised more money than the professional tele-fundraisers did in all of 2010. The results have been so strong that the volunteers have raised their goals and added two additional phone banks. 

“Of course we depend on local donations to continue this work. I see you have contributed in the past and wonder if you could donate $__________ tonight?”

Perhaps you’ve received such a call from a Chapter volunteer?

Former Chapter Executive Committee Chair Karen Maki volunteered to help organize the Chapter’s fundraising phone call banks because, “The Chapter is a strong local force, protecting our local environment and educating the public about conservation issues and the conservation records of local politicians.” Donations to the Chapter support our conservation activities such as the Cool Cities Campaign and Building Climate Friendly Communities, our political endorsements, newsletter, staff, and the office space that is the hub of our activities. Karen gives an example: “The Chapter’s voice has been critical in the long fight to stop the Saltworks development on Redwood City wetlands.” (See page 7.)

“I did it because I figured that enthusiastic volunteers could raise more money than the professional tele-fundraisers we had hired last year,” says veteran phone bank leader Katie Dunlap, who also helped organize the phone banks. “We’ve already done better than they did, and we have two phone banks to go,” says Katie.

Since June, five to eight volunteers at each of four phone banks making follow-up phone calls to 1605 Chapter members who received fundraising letters in May have garnered $6970 in pledges, of which $5830 has already been received. The results have been so strong that the volunteers have raised their goal from $6000 to $9000 and added two additional phone banks.

Due to the recession, the national Sierra Club reduced financial support to local chapters; the Chapter must raise more than $150,000 per year to sustain its local activities.

Why do Chapter members volunteer to make fundraising calls? Mary Gill put it this way: “You work with a great group of people who really care about the Club, people who are totally committed to the Sierra Club goals.” Jason Spitzer said, “I’m very impressed by the dedication of Loma Prieta Chapter members, as well as its grassroots effectiveness.”

Dinner, Script, and then to the Phones

Phone banks are held in the Chapter office near San Antonio Road and Highway 101 in Palo Alto from 6 pm to 9 pm. After social time and refreshments, volunteers review the night’s fundraising goals and the script. Each volunteer dials 70 members with the goal of raising $300. Of those we call, 36% of the members agree to donate.

You never know who will be on your call list. “A couple of years ago, I was doing this for the first time,” says Mary Gill, “and former Assembly Member Sally Lieber was one of the first people on the list. Since I assumed she wouldn’t answer, I was very taken aback when she answered and barely knew what to say, but she made a substantial donation. Even people who do not or cannot contribute are usually polite and sympathetic.”

So far former Chapter Development Coordinator Darren Ponce and 16 Chapter volunteers have made calls: Rhona Mahoney, Gary Bailey, Jason Spitzer, Mary Gill, Margaret Okuzumi, Mary Ann Irvine, Janet Hoffman, Larry Aronson, Bill Barrett, John Fensterwald, Veronique Greene, Gary Latshaw, Gee-Gee Lenhart, Dave Paradise, and phone bank organizers Katie Dunlap and Karen Maki.