A conversation with Daryl Byler, Development Director, DC Bar Foundation
As Washington, DC’s leading funder of civil legal aid, the DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) both stewards government-allocated dollars and executes its own fundraising to supplement its grantmaking. Campaigns to solicit law firms and individuals are a cornerstone of DCBF’s strategy, and in this Spotlight on our Spool, we talk with Daryl Byler, DCBF’s Development Director, to share his perspective on how to organize and execute successful campaigns.
Do a debrief after each campaign to assess what is working well (and should continue as is) and what needs tweaking.
Thread: The DC Bar Foundation executes multiple unique fundraising campaigns annually. What balance do you try to strike between refreshing your campaigns while also not totally reinventing the wheel each year?
Daryl: We do a debrief after each campaign to assess what is working well (and should continue as is) and what needs tweaking. This year, for example, we provided more options for our Go Casual for Justice campaign workplaces so that they could adapt the campaign to their unique office culture.
Thread: What is the most important part of the campaign planning process, in your opinion?
Daryl: Two things, actually. First, analyzing what worked and what didn’t in the previous campaign, then making adaptations. And, second, developing buy-in among the volunteers who serve as champions for each campaign.
Thread: DCBF relies heavily on volunteers to help execute several of its fundraising campaigns. What advice can you share about motivating volunteers, keeping them organized, and most importantly, holding them accountable to the help they offered to provide?
Daryl: Using volunteer solicitors allows us to build on their networks of relationships. We make sure that our volunteer solicitors have up-to-date information about the DC Bar Foundation’s current efforts as well as everything they need to make the ask – for example, sample emails and talking points. We also have regular check-in calls with the volunteer solicitor team, which creates an accountability and support space. And we try to respond quickly to any requests that volunteer solicitors make for specific information. They are a huge resource and we thank them often.
Thread: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received about planning appeals?
Daryl: Focus on relationships and impact. Building relationships with your donors helps you understand what they are passionate about and helps donors feel connected to your work. And always share stories that highlight your organization’s impact. Donors want to invest in organizations that are changing lives and building a better world.