By David HoyeVolunteer Digital Blogger
The American Red Cross’ mission statement is clear: The organization “prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”
All that would be impossible to achieve without people like Shannon Albert. She is the new Regional Chief Development Officer for the Red Cross’ Arizona-New Mexico Region, which means she’s in charge of raising the money that makes everything possible. “We’re very excited to have Shannon leading our fundraising efforts,” said Kurt Kroemer, chief executive officer for the Red Cross’ Arizona-New Mexico region. “The mission of the Red Cross can only be realized if we have the funds to conduct our work. And Shannon’s fearless and optimistic attitude will help us with those efforts.”
Albert was working in Texas when the Red Cross offered her a position and chance to return to Phoenix, where she lived 20 years ago. She started her new Red Cross job back in February. “It’s just amazing the growth that’s happened,” she said. “I’m happy to be back. You know, Texas was good to me, but Arizona always felt like home.”
Despite her short tenure, Albert’s positive impact on the Red Cross Arizona-New Mexico Region is already clear. Consider the recent Arizona Gives Day. The event, held this year back on April 7, is a big deal for non-profit organizations across the state. It raises a lot of revenue quickly but also promotes year-long giving and reminds folks that the need for donations goes well beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Red Cross participated in the day of giving a couple of times before Albert arrived. But the most the organization had ever collected was $1,800. This year, she said, “we had a campaign around that. We did postcards, social media and we used volunteers to make phone calls. We had a lot of different approaches. And we raised over $26,000. It was great!”
As with other full-time Red Cross employees, Albert is spending time working at home due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But she is based in Phoenix and eventually will work out of the headquarters building on 22nd Street, just south of Camelback Road.
Albert isn’t working alone. For example, she has regional philanthropy officers who help oversee various aspects of Red Cross fundraising. One is focused on corporate giving and others handle individual donors or a blend of both business and individuals. There’s also a development officer whose job entails prospecting or finding new donors and ways they can help the Red Cross meet its goals. All that talent is already focused on another major fundraising plan – one that might have sparked Kroemer to call her “fearless.”
“This will be the first time we’ve done this at the Red Cross. We’re the guinea pig,” Albert said. “We’re doing a ‘Red Cross Ready Virtual 5k.’ “The event will involve people registering and then choosing whether or not they want to fund raise. An online component will allow participants to create fundraising pages, links to other participants, and even team formation.
The Virtual 5k is slated to open for registration beginning June 1. The event, itself, will be held June 15-30, giving participants two weeks to complete their 5k by running, walking, swimming, bike riding, or any combination of such activities. “Our hashtag for it is going to be #RedCrossReady5k,” she said. “The idea, during this pandemic that we’re having, is to get people up and out and involved.”
Speaking of the pandemic, Albert acknowledges that it has placed a burden on her efforts to bolster fundraising for the Red Cross. But helping finance the organization’s mission is just as important now as it ever was.
“Even though we’re in a pandemic, the Red Cross is still responding to all disasters from wildfires, storms, home fires, and doing all of the other stuff that we do,” she said. “Lots of businesses are shut down and people are holding on to their money. But our donors are loyal and people are stepping up where they can.”
Albert points to the planned Virtual 5k as an example of how she and her staff, with support from Red Cross volunteers and others, are still finding ways to support the organization. “Our staff knows the challenge,” she said. “But with things like the Virtual 5k they’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is fresh. This is new. This is something we can get excited about.’ I feel there’s an energy around this event.”
Albert has lots of plans beyond the Virtual 5k and sees her new job with the Red Cross Arizona-New Mexico Region as an exciting and rewarding way to make a difference. “During this very difficult time that our country is going through,” she said, “the Red Cross is still delivering on its mission. We might be delivering it differently. But we’re still getting it done. And that makes me proud.