The Making of our Annual Appeal

Jan Halperin sending Annual Appeal Cards.

Jan Halperin has been Director of Development at the Evanston History Center since 2010. She received her degree in history from the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) and has worked in fundraising for a long time, most recently in higher education for American Friends of Hebrew University and Indiana University.  Her desktop mascot is a David DeJesus bobblehead doll in a Cubs uniform. 

Thank goodness for DAB n SEAL; no more licking envelopes! And with 50 more cards to sign, stamp and seal that is critical! It’s that time of year, when your mail box fills up with fundraising requests from your favorite organizations, ours included.

In order to continue our mission to collect, preserve, and interpret the rich history of Evanston through exhibits, education programs and research facilities, we need donor support to fund our budget.  Like all organizations, for profit or not, the Evanston History Center’s largest annual expense is salary. After that overhead and professional services account for our other two largest expense categories.

And how do we raise that money? The Evanston History Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, brings in income from four primary sources:

  • Fundraisers, donations, dues and grants
  • Admission, membership dues, and programs
  • Non-program rentals
  • Bequests and endowment income

With the holidays rolling around our primary fundraising focus is on our annual appeal, which we have been doing since 1993. This is our 20th year, and we hope to make it our most profitable.  Our goal is to raise $45,000. We decide on that amount based on the overall budget requirements, past annual appeal results and a thoughtful look at our data base.

2010 Annual Appeal Card

When we started the annual appeal we’d mail a letter, generally from the Board President and the Executive Director asking for support for the General Fund.  Looking to change things up in 2009 Eden Juron Pearlman, our Executive Director and Board member Matt Struve decided on a new approach; sending out a holiday greeting card for the annual appeal.

The first year the design of the card was a drawing of the Evanston History Center with a Thanksgiving greeting on the front. In 2009, we went to our archives to search for a card to use, and found one in the Mr.  & Mrs. W. Clement Stone collection, a cornucopia overflowing with fruit. We also found a Christmas card to the Stones personally signed by actress Joan Crawford!

2011 Annual Appeal Card

In 2010, as part of our Holiday Open House held in December, we incorporated a Wreath Contest “Deck the Dawes”.  We invited florist shops, gift stores, clubs boutiques and businesses and individuals to participate. The winning wreath, judged by the current mayor and two of past mayors was selected to grace the cover of the 2011 card.  It was designed by artist Kay L. Hagness.

2012 Annual Appeal Card

We held the second wreath contest at last year’s Holiday Open House. The winner was Gethsemane Gardens, chosen from a rich pool of wreaths! It is on the front of our 2012 Annual Appeal, and has been recreated in the window of our friends at First Bank & Trust of Evanston on Church Street throughout the month of December.

We are no different from other not for profits, in that we faced a declining number of gifts and reduced dollar amount of gifts last year along with increased expenses. To counter that in 2012 we made two decisions; to significantly reduce the number of cards we send and to personally note every card we do send. Every card we send is personally noted and signed by a board member, staff person or one of our interns. We wanted to touch our donors, as they have generously supported us.

If you did not receive a card and would like to make a gift please go to our website or send me your name and address at jchalperin@evanstonhistorycenter.org and I will mail a card to you.

Our goal is to raise $45,000 this year. We have reduced our expenses by nearly two thirds already, giving us a head start.  And, this will be the second year we have made on-line giving available so that visitors to our website, Facebook page and twitter will be able to quickly and securely make a gift.

Give to EHC’s Annual Appeal

 And these gifts are so important to the Evanston History Center (EHC) and to the wonderful community we serve. Over 4500 visitors came to the History Center in the past year. Some people use our archives to do research on the story behind their home in our house files. You can start here: http://evanstonhistorycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/house-history.pdf

Others come for the Under the Buffalo lecture series on all things Evanston. We have tourists from around the world visit who have heard of General Dawes, whose home is a National Historic Landmark owned by EHC. Evanston school children come to learn about their city and their place in history, and people come for celebrations, concerts or to view exhibits.

Your gift allows us to continue to support our mission and to provide the community with a safe repository of their past – now and in the future. Join us for the Holiday Open House on December 2 from 1-4pm.  And please make a gift today to support the Evanston History Center. Your gift truly makes a difference. Thank you for your support.

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