Advice and Whiskey with Bart Brown

Ozarks Food Harvest is the engine behind hunger-relief efforts in southwest Missouri. We sat down over drinks with Bart Brown at Patton Alley Pub to discuss fundraising and maintaining donor relations at the award-winning nonprofit organization.

By Jeff Houghton

Mar 2018

Advice & Whiskey with Bart Brown
Illustration by Alex WolkenA personal touch is important to Bart Brown. Even after 16 years at the helm of Ozarks Food Harvest, he still hand-writes communication to donors and reaches out frequently.

“Communication is the essence of appreciation, so if the only time you’re talking to a donor is when you’re asking them for money, you’re not going to have many donors.”

“I still hand-write most donors’ letters.” 

“We’re not asking for anything really. We’re asking for their consideration of a gift. That makes it less threatening for everybody.” 

“Asking the donor is the tip of the iceberg because we’ve done all this work underwater. There are minions working down here. We’ve got to get thank you letters out, our social media has to be updated, our newsletters have to get out, plus we run a huge logistics operation.” 

“There’s emotion involved with giving, but if you do it professionally it sustains giving.”

“A lot of folks isolate themselves and try to reinvent the wheel. If we don’t know how to do something, we ask somebody’s who’s done it, then—what’s more important—we do what they told us to do.”

“We have to listen to what the clients need before we can make a plan.”

“If you treat people like adults, they’ll do almost anything for you. Don’t try to force common sense on them; just treat them well. Give your people challenges and let them tell you the tools they need, and then get them the tools.”

“Having worked for places that continually expect you to do more with less and less, it’s refreshing coming to a place that says, ‘What do you need to do this?’ Being the kind of place that people want to come to work every day makes a world of difference.”

The Receipt:

1 Diet Coke with Lime
1 Angry Orchard Cider
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