Jones Center for Families
Benefactor: Tyson Foods
Amount awarded in 2010: $200,000 for operating expenses, part of a $1-million pledge over five years
About the organization: The Springdale, Ark., center which has an annual operating budget of about $3.6-million, attracts 1 million people a year to its sports facilities, classes, and meeting rooms.
How the charity won it: The one-word answer is “history,” says Kelly Kemp-McLintock, the center’s chief advancement officer. The Harvey and Bernice Jones Center for Families is only 15 years old, but its connection with Tyson Foods, which is also in Springdale, goes way back. In the 1930s, John Tyson, the company’s founder, and Harvey Jones were local entrepreneurs and friends. Deep bonds continue today, decades after they died.
Mr. Jones’s widow, Bernice, started the center 15 years ago after selling the family trucking business. Today, a Tyson executive serves as the center’s chairman of the board, other Tyson employees sit on development and diversity councils, and the company’s recruitment brochure features the center as a place that enhances the region’s quality of life.
“We stay active in that relationship,” Ms. Kemp-McLintock says. “I schedule regular visits at Tyson.”
While Tyson provided the biggest gift in 2010, the Wal-Mart Foundation, 18 miles down the road in Bentonville, gave the center $250,000 for 2011. (Wal-Mart’s founder, Sam Walton, and his wife, Helen, were also friends of Harvey and Bernice Jones.)
Advice for fund raisers: Carefully research companies’ giving priorities before approaching them, says Ms. Kemp-McLintock. And tell potential donors who else is giving, she says. “Funders want to know about our other supporters,” she says, because it gives credibility to the charity.
Give potential supporters a tour of the nonprofit’s facilities—and send handwritten thank-you notes. “Get them in your doors and on your soil,” she says.
And make the most of interwoven personal connections in the charity’s region. History can be a fund-raising tool, says Ms. Kemp-McLintock. “People like hearing about those early relationships,” she says. “It’s a way to make and maintain connections.”