As a professional musician, Dr. Pamela Murchison has experience playing flute in several orchestras and teaching music to individuals and in university settings. In 2007, she began playing with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra in Charleston, West Virginia, and fell in love with the Charleston community.
When a position as vice president of development for the orchestra opened up, Dr. Murchison jumped at the opportunity to serve the community as a professional fundraiser.
“Much of my fundraising training has developed ‘on the ground’ as I’ve continued on in this position. I knew starting out how important relationship-building was, but I didn’t have the right tools to fully systemize the process,” she explained.
Enter The Fund Raising School. Dr. Murchison found an old Principles & Techniques of Fundraising course book in her office on her first day, and referred to it as a resource during her first year. When a fellow fundraiser and friend at a local hospital expressed interest in attending that course in Indianapolis in 2016, Dr. Murchison realized the time was right and signed up.
What she found was enlightening.
“It was incredibly interesting to talk to people who were in fundraising, but in different sectors, e.g. social services, museums, etc. They helped me understand that there’s a broad range of ways to think about how you tell your story. If you focus on the relationships and the ties people have to the cause and mission, the fundraising naturally follows,” she said.
Throughout the course and afterwards, Dr. Murchison began to see how the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra could grow its fundraising, expand its reach, and dream big. She discovered after speaking with Bill Stanczykiewicz, director of The Fund Raising School and assistant dean of external relations, the tools she needed as a new fundraiser to continue to build energy around the symphony board’s dedicated fundraising efforts.
“Bill underscored so beautifully that people want to be engaged and to help,” she said. “We’re fortunate to have incredible board members and volunteers who are extremely committed to the symphony, and together we’ve built a team of ambassadors for the symphony. Bill’s suggestions have helped to expand our fundraising program and maximize our impact.”
As a result, Dr. Murchison has been better able to organize her time and communication, and the orchestra’s development program has grown and strengthened.
“We’ve seen more and more successes. We’ve grown our annual fund over the years. We are almost completed with a $3 million endowment campaign, where individuals have come forward and endowed many musicians’ chairs,” she said.
“There are these strong possibilities in our community. For the board to see that and the board to see that their involvement and commitment to fundraising made these milestones happen has just continued the momentum.”
Dr. Murchison’s, the board’s, and the orchestra’s commitment to growing their impact has resulted in the first “Super Pops” show in 30 years, as well as additional new opportunities.
“People are excited about the programs and shows we’re offering, which has only enhanced our fundraising as well,” she said. “Fundraising is hard work, but when you have strong advocates for an organization, it helps keep the mission in mind and individuals excited to build relationships in the community.
“I’m excited about where we are and where we can go.”
Ready to build a better board? Learn more and register for The Fund Raising School’s course Purposeful Boards, Purposeful Fundraising, where you and a board member can attend together, build capacity, and strengthen your organization.