Decent Humans is what we call the incredible community we witness on CrowdRise each and every day doing amazing things for good. And each month, we’re going to highlight a Decent Human in the nonprofit world that’s devoting their time and passion to giving back and making a difference. We hope that by sharing their stories of aid, altruism, and passion, others will be inspired to make an even greater impact on the world we live in.
This month we got to chat with Caryn Henning over at MDRT Foundation. We talked about how the MDRT Foundation is taking traditional fundraising events online, why it’s all about relationships, and how sometimes you just need a milkshake.After working in a children’s hospital setting that provided surgical services free of charge for patients and families, Caryn knew she wanted to continue working in a role that was focused on giving back.
So when the job opportunity came up at the MDRT Foundation, she jumped at the chance. As the Donor Relations Coordinator, she, much like all nonprofit roles, wears many hats. She reconciles all donations on a daily basis, handles fundraising events such as their Phonathon and MDRT Gives Day, manages the Gift of Life Insurance program, and oversees many other aspects of the Foundation.
On the MDRT Foundation
The mission of MDRT Foundation is to be the premier charitable foundation involving all members and improving the quality of life for those in needs. It’s the charitable arm of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), the premier association of financial professionals, and over the years has awarded $32 million in grants to life-changing charities worldwide since 1959.
On why the nonprofit world is her calling
I've always wanted to do something in a giving back capacity and I thought I was leaning more towards social work. But once I learned more about the MDRT Foundation, that's when I knew that it was the field that I was supposed to be in. Like I said, when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it, and thankfully was given the opportunity with little experience.
On office life
I would love to say I'm at home in pajamas, or in a hammock outside. But that is not the case. We live a cube life here. I'm an arm’s length away from my colleagues. They just remodeled our building and we’ve been in the new space for just over two years. It's very modern and nice. It was a definite, needed upgrade that has inspired more people to move around while they work.
On what she wishes people knew about the MDRT Foundation
Just the depth of how much we do at MDRT. And how it’s so much about the relationship building.
Also, the MDRT Foundation is an MDRT member benefit available to all members. I’d love for members to know that they have the ability to apply for a grant and make a difference anywhere in the world. Every single member should be applying for a grant. I’d also like to tell nonprofit organizations to find an MDRT member in their area and ask them to sponsor a grant. If you know a financial professional, just ask them two questions: Are you an MDRT member? Can you endorse a grant for us?
On bringing a traditional fundraising event online
We do our MDRT Foundation Phonathon once a year. It's primarily US-based because it's a time when we have 20 to 25 members together in a room for two days calling fellow MDRT members. We also have an online campaign and, even though our primary goal is to be calling as many people as possible, we know that we're not going to reach everybody via phone. So we send a link to our Phonathon campaign page in addition to making phone calls.
We have a drop-down box on the campaign page that has the different caller's names, so that if you got the link, you could scroll down and click the name of the solicitor so that he or she got "credit" on the fundraising side. That way we can host competitions and little games based on that too. But that helped us catch some people that we weren't able to reach on the phone.On the snack that gets her through the day
It kind of depends. I know my one cube mate, she is a die-hard gummy bear or Swedish Fish fan. I'm not one of those. I'm more of a cookie lover. Or chips and salsa. If I could have chips at my desk every day, that would be pretty awesome.
On lunch pick-me-ups
Chocolate chip milkshakes make everything better in my world. If that’s all I had for lunch, that usually means it’s been a rough day.On their big 24-hour global MDRT Gives Day event
We wanted an online, one-day giving event that united all of the MDRT community and encouraged them to all to donate on the same day. So we strategically planned to have a committee made up of members from all around the world. On MDRT Gives Day, we reach out to all of the different countries we represent. This year, Gives Day was October 23rd. We planned out this whole day so that everybody went online on their October 23rd (based on their location) to make their donations. We had huge success, receiving nearly 800 donations from 35 countries. We ended up raising over $156,000 in one day. It was pretty incredible.
On why she and the MDRT Foundation chose CrowdRise by GoFundMe (sorry not sorry for the shameless plug)
Originally, we had a different platform and we were extremely disappointed with them in many different areas — functionality, database integration, ease of use for not only us, but our fundraisers. It was just a lot of problems. So we knew once that contract was over, we needed to find something else. I looked into a handful of other platforms, CrowdRise being one of them, and we just really liked the customization, the customer service, the responses we got - everything from CrowdRise really fit into what we needed.
We had to be able to customize as much as possible. The ability to create a page in whatever way we wanted was key; to have the individual pages, and also have a tab for corporate sponsors. Just having all of it in one nice, neat package - it wasn't all separate. The ease of being able to create everybody's page all at once. It was just an easy, user friendly, forward facing, and behind the scenes thing that we knew our fundraisers and volunteers would be able to handle, and that we would be able to handle as well.
Thanks so much Caryn. It’s so awesome to see how MDRT Foundation members are taking their philanthropic spirit and making such incredible impact in the world. Thanks for being an amazing nonprofit partner, we’d gladly share a milkshake with you any time. Although I’m more of a fan of straight-up vanilla.
To learn more about the MDRT Foundation, please click here.