Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Honor your volunteers

One of the greatest parts of our job as fundraisers is that we get to work with amazing people like Dr. James Walton.

Dr. Walton is a member of the Central Dallas Ministries board of directors, and one of the leaders of our community's efforts to provide medical care to the uninsured. As the Chief Health Equity Officer of the Baylor Health Care System, Dr. Walton is a tremendous partner and a great friend to the organization. Through his leadership, we have expanded our clinic from a 3-hour volunteer clinic that annually served several hundred patients into a 48-hour professional clinic that annually hosts over 21,000 contacts with patients.

His life is a great testament to the power of faith and philanthropy.

There is nothing valuable enough that we could give to Dr. Walton to repay him for his efforts. He is a humble man, and not one to display vases with his name engraved on them or plaques listing his many, many awards.

And so, we work to honor him in the way that he would most appreciate: by securing funds in his honor for the medical practice that he founded in our organization.

We recently honored him with our organization's highest honor, the Hazel E. Brown Outstanding Community Partner Award. The award was delivered at our annual fundraising concert, A Night to Remember. Many of the event's sponsors gave us their support in recognition of Dr. Walton's achievements.

At the event, we asked Dr. Walton and his wife -- Dr. Rhonda Walton, who is also a physician similarly dedicated to providing medical care to our less fortunate neighbors -- to come to the stage. There, we gave them a small token of our appreciation, but we announced that two important gifts were made in their honor:

  • We purchased a Hoyer lift for Dr. Walton to use in treating paraplegic and quadriplegic patients (see image attached),
  • We made a $1,000 donation to Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization where Dr. Rhonda serves on the board, in honor of their combined work.
The awards were the perfect way to recognize these two amazing leaders.

Similarly, we recently applied to the Philanthropy Journal for their Volunteer Hero Award. I am proud to say that Dr. Walton's nomination was selected, and a small grant is being made in his honor to Central Dallas Ministries.

When I emailed Dr. Walton about the award, his reply was both deeply personal and very heartfelt. His appreciation for the organization's work was obvious.

Dr. Walton is a faithful friend, a tremendous volunteer and a wonderful donor to the organization. Taking a few minutes to submit an application on his behalf was about far more than attempting to raise money using his name -- it was about recognizing his invaluable contributions in a way that will most effectively convey our appreciation to him.

There are numerous awards out there like Philanthropy Journal's Volunteer Hero Award. You should consider nominating the Dr. Waltons of your organization for these awards as not just a matter of fundraising, but as a way to deepen your relationship with these priceless partners.

You can read about Dr. Walton's recent award here:
http://www.philanthropyjournal.org//lu.cfm?lu=27272

You can also read one of our CEO's many blogs on Dr. Walton here:
http://larryjamesurbandaily.blogspot.com/2006/03/chief-health-equity-officer.html