Story by Madeline Martinson, Orange County Chapter Communications Volunteer
Kurt Burton is a Regional Philanthropy Officer with the American Red Cross Desert to the Sea Region, which serves Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. In his role, Kurt is responsible for cultivating and maintaining relationships with donors whose support helps the Red Cross deliver its vital services. “It’s about connecting people to the mission- that’s what it boils down to,” says Kurt. In his effort to do this, Kurt provides stewardship and a variety of other outreach touch points to donors in order to connect them to the Red Cross mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.
Initially, all Kurt knew about the Red Cross is what most people associate the Red Cross with: responding to large disasters and collecting blood. About five months after joining the Red Cross, Kurt went on his first deployment. “I needed to know and see the mission in action, to be able to communicate the impact that potential donors have,” says Kurt. By immersing and living mission during his deployment, Kurt was able to see first-hand what donations look like in action- a warm blanket, a hot meal, a safe place to stay, and so much more. Because of this experience, he can better convey to donors the impact of their financial support.
Now, three years since joining the organization, Kurt admits that he’s learned there is much more to the Red Cross than just disaster relief. He’s realized it’s the day-to-day activities, behind the scenes work, and year-round training that goes into making the Red Cross what it is. It’s the early days, late nights, and dedication of staff and volunteers who make it all happen. The secret lies with the generosity of donors and the power of volunteers that work together to ensure the Red Cross can perform its vital mission. “Without donor support, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” he says. “Without the power of volunteers and donors, we wouldn’t be anywhere.”
By cultivating relationships with donors, Kurt is able to help them develop a connection with the organization and illustrate that the Red Cross can only do what it does thanks to the generosity and support of the American people. Kurt believes that he is just one small part of an organization that really does make a difference. “There aren’t many organizations that do what the Red Cross does,” he says. “They do other great things, but the Red Cross is special.”
For more information on how you can support the mission of the Red Cross, visit redcross.org.