Dawn Repoli
Executive Director & COO

Thinking Outside the ROI Box: The Real Reason to Give

What do the people of WINiT mean to you? Do you remember why you joined the WINiT family?

The harvest will never come if you don’t take the time to plant the seeds. The more seeds you plant, the bigger the harvest you will have. ~ Wendy Nicole Anderson Seems rather obvious, right?

April 15th marked the close of our first fundraising campaign. I am always humbled by the generous support WINiT receives – both by the many organizations (large and small) that make up the travel, meeting, event, and exhibition industries as well as the individual donors. Thank you for planting those seeds.

As the Executive Director of a non-profit, fundraising is one of my most critical and daunting responsibilities. Ironically, fundraising really comes down to being able to answer one basic question for the organizations and individuals WINiT approaches: why should I/we donate? The answer to that question is different for every potential donor. For many large organizations (and even individuals), there is often a need for concrete evidence that non-profit giving will yield some sort of qualitative return: Articulating the qualitative return can be elusive for all non-profits. How, then, can a non-profit illustrate what it is ‘returning’ to its donors? Why should organizations and people give?

I realized, after pondering the question for countless hours and looking internally to my own motivations for giving, the reason for giving is much more powerful than numbers on a report or checking a corporate responsibility box. I personally donate (time and money) to 5 non-profits and charities on an annual basis. I share this not to pat myself on the back but to explain that I sit squarely on the other side of this proverbial coin. The organizations that I choose to support are guided by a mission that resonates with me. These organizations represent a community. They are a network of people coalescing around ideas and beliefs about which they feel passionate, passionate enough around which to create real movement and change. I give because I believe that the visions and goals these organizations are working toward are worth the investment, even if the outcome of their efforts cannot be measured in hard data. And, in fact, I believe the ‘emotional ROI’ gained through giving is far more powerful because it moves something in people and organizations. It creates connection and commonality. It harnesses and cherishes that most basic sense of humanity: working together for a common good.

Every day, the WINiT program office and our network of almost 200 volunteers come together around the belief that we can create real change for women in the industries we serve. We know we are making an impact because of the stories our members share, the engagement of our volunteers, and the commitment of our donors.  We look back with gratitude at the generations of men and women who planted the seeds of change. We look forward with hope as we strive to continue to harvest change for future generations.