Linda Burkley, APR, on Fundraising

Tonight we had a guest speaker at our PRSSA Fundraising meeting. Linda Burkley is the Owner and Creative Strategist of Ardis Communications. A skilled facilitator and experienced practitioner, she is also an adjunct faculty member at Susquehanna University and teaches in the MBA program for the University of Phoenix. Burkley came to talk to us about fundraising and I learned a lot of useful information. I wrote an article about it for my News Writing class, so I will attach it below:

Linda Burkley, APR, tells students the best way to raise funds

UNIVERSITY PARK – To gain support for any cause, the most important thing is to have a compelling story to tell because “people like to give to other people,” said Linda Burkley, the owner and creative strategist of Ardis Communications.

Burkley spoke to the Fundraising Committee of the Public Relations Student Society of America on Tuesday evening about an assortment of ways for groups to gain outside interest in their causes.

An accredited public relations practitioner, Burkley was named one of Pennsylvania’s Top 50 Women in Business by then-governor Edward G. Rendell in 2008.

Throughout her presentation, Burkley cited many examples of well-known campaigns that have been successful because they “gave a face” to their causes.

“This is Nancy. Her sister was Susan G. Komen. Because Nancy gave a face to breast cancer, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has earned the most money for any individual cause,” Berkley said. The foundation has raised almost $2 billion since it began in 1982.

Berkley also talked about Lance Armstrong’s “Livestrong” campaign as an example of people wanting to help other people.

Berkley cited her own experiences as further proof that having a compelling story is the key to successful fundraising.

Berkley has a son with cerebral palsy. As a result, she is an advocate for stem cell research, which she believes is the answer to her son’s disease.

She has found that what works best in gaining support for her cause is for people to see her son. She said that emotional appeals are more powerful than just the facts.

After gaining support, Berkley also emphasized that it is important to recognize your supporters. “Send thank-yous. Give social media shout-outs. Use their services and recommend them to others,” Berkley said.

Do not be the person who asks for a donation from a mom and pop shop, but shows up to collect it with bags from a larger chain, Berkley said. That person is going to lose the support in return.

People will help you if you help them, but as Berkley wrote on the board in large and underlined print, “People are stupid.” Don’t forget to return the favor.

Berkley opened the floor to questions, to which students asked about the best ways to gain experience.

Berkley told students to prove that they are good candidates for a job by showing that they have gone out of their way to get involved in something that reflects their passions.

“I’m not going to hire a communications major who cannot communicate,” Berkley said.

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