Kids' Chance of America Volunteers Flying High After National Conference

07 May, 2019 Nancy Grover


Sarasota, FL ( - There is one thing on which virtually all workers’ compensation stakeholders agree: the children of workers killed or severely injured on the job should not have to suffer needlessly. Financing a college education can become an impossible dream for many of these children once a parent’s income is reduced or depleted due to occupational injuries or death.

Kids Chance of America exists to help these affected children realize their educational dreams. This year, an estimated 500 students are working on their college degrees, thanks to monies they’ve received through the nonprofit organization. Many of the employers, insurers, state government representatives, medical providers, plaintiff and defense attorneys, labor representatives and other volunteers involved are identifying new recipients and figuring out how to raise more scholarship money, following the Kids’ Chance of America 2019 National Conference here.

State-based Activities

Representatives of the state chapters come together for the annual event to highlight their recent activities. Arkansas awarded 21 scholarships this year; Florida provided 11; Georgia gave out 44 scholarships last year. Oregon provided $6,000 each to seven scholarship recipients. Connecticut raised $36,000 and in the last month identified 5 scholarship recipients. California started an ‘elite level’ annual contribution of $50,000. Louisiana stopped “doing things the way we always have,” and streamlined the application process along with allowing scholarships for students attending out-of-state colleges. Maryland is trying to keep scholarship recipients engaged after graduation, and has one student interning at the company of a state chapter board member.

The fundraising is done at the state level, with scholarships awarded through each of the 33 organizations. Each individual statewide Kids’ Chance chapter operates independently to obtain scholarship money and evaluate potential recipients’ applications.

“Any organization can do it,” said Vicki Burkhart, KCOA Executive Director. “It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together.”

With the 43 state organizations in varying stages of existence, Burkhart outlined ways to raise and maintain funding levels. Corporate partnerships, she said, are the best option.

“Not only does the organization develop a sustainable funding source, corporate partnerships are easily renewable and build on relationships; it’s not necessarily a ‘one and done’ thing,” she explained. “As we look at the landscape where fundraising is competitive, relationships are really important.”

Unlike sponsorships, where there is a financial contribution for a specific event, partnerships are designed to support the organization and all its facets. They are ongoing and should be mutually beneficial.

Engaging Corporate Partners

Before asking a company to become a partner, it’s imperative to take some preliminary steps; especially establishing the financial levels.

“That’s the mistake people make,” Burkhart said. “You really need to look at your organization and spend time talking about partnership levels, so when you sit with prospects you have confidence that what you are projecting is organizationally proven.”

An example of different levels would be: 

  • Premier — $25,000
  • Platinum — $10,000
  • Gold — $5,000
  • Silver — $2,500
  • Bronze — $1,000

Another mistake nonprofits sometimes make is in thanking their corporate partners. “They don’t necessarily want you to be spending dollars thanking them,” she said. “Some feel they have to wine and dine them, and they get feedback saying ‘I’m giving them money to support the mission.’”

Creating a vision of the program is critical. Prospective partners need to know about the organization and what it’s trying to accomplish. Otherwise, just going after large companies with deep pockets is a waste of time.

“Amazon has a lot of money, but do they have a lot of passion for your mission and align with your brand?” Burkhart asked. “The number one reason corporate partners engage with nonprofits is because they have a passion for your mission, they want to align with your brand and they can give at that level.”

Corporations that have a passion for the nonprofit’s mission are more likely to join forces and use the partnership in marketing materials, for example. Cross marketing, whereby the nonprofit markets some of the partner’s activities, strengthens the relationship.  

Once a partnership has been established, nonprofits such as Kids’ Chance organizations should work to deepen the relationship with the company and the people within it, Burkhart advised. For example, if the connection is only with one person at the company — even if it is the CEO, what would happen to the partnership if that person were to leave?

“So connect deeply in the association,” she said. “Connect with marketing and communications, their finance person, somebody in the C-suite. That’s how you start to build the DNA of your relationship with the company … the more people involved, the better.”


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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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