NPO 13: Lee Ann Eiland (Playworks Illinois)

Today's Guest: Lee Ann Eiland, Development Manager for Playworks Illinois
          Lee Ann Eiland is a woman, mother, entrepreneur, Chicago native and a champion for living fearlessly. Lee Ann has worked for social service, health systems and educational institutions throughout her development career. Having studied both Biochemistry at UIC and Organizational Management at Concordia University, she has come to the conclusion that relationship building is not rocket science, but the art of listening.
         Lee Ann joined Playworks, a national nonprofit, three years ago as the Illinois Development Manager. As the Development Manager she supports all facets of the Illinois offices’ foundation, individual and corporate partnerships as well as fundraising events.   Lee Ann was drawn to the mission of Playworks because working with children holds a special place in her heart.  Her hope is to continue to bring the team building and conflict resolutions skills used to resolve disputes on the playground home to her two children.  Lee Ann enjoys reading, playing with her two kids and retail therapy. 

Nonprofit Spotlight: Playworks Illinois
The mission of Playworks is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Playworks partners with schools, districts, and afterschool programs to provide a service or mix of services including on-site coaches, professional training for school staff who support recess, and consultative partnerships. To visit their Facebook group, click here!

  1. Join them for their Playmaker's Adult Recess: July 25th
  2. Save the Date for the Get in the Game event: September 28th

Lessons Learned:
          Lee Ann shared several great fundraising lessons. Playworks does an incredible job of integrating their topic of play into all aspects of their organization. At board meetings, they include a game; at donor visits, they ask the donors about their favorite recess games; at their fundraisers, they include games! Their two big event-based fundraisers are Get in the Game and Corporate Kickball. For Get in the Game, it's structured like most typical galas, but while dressed in your cocktail attire, you are expected to engage in games and crafts around the room! For the Corporate Kickball tournament, corporations and individuals can sign up teams of players to participate in a one-day tournament filled with lots of friendly competition. If there's a way to invite others to engage in a fun way that connects with your mission, that's a much better ask that will likely stand out from the crowd than the more traditional sponsorship opportunities.
          Playworks Illinois does a direct mail ask at the end of the year and has a Choose Play in May online marketing campaign that focuses more on peer-to-peer fundraising. Identifying different types of outreach to donors and using different voices to conduct that outreach has made Playworks Illinois more successful.
          Not directly mentioned, but in Lee Ann's stories about getting into her development career, she shared a story of having a job opportunity but not being qualified and working hard to get qualified in the months leading up to the job. There is definitely a certain aspect of hustle, hard work and determination that makes any fundraising professional successful.

Story of Good:
In the second story of good that Lee Ann shared, she talked about a corporate beautification day through Playworks Illinois. Volunteers from their corporation signed up to spend their Saturday painting a playground at a local school. During their day, six neighborhood kids came to the park and the interactions between the kids and the volunteers (in both directions) were priceless. To listen to the whole story, listen to the episode!

Next Guest: Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of Kids in Danger (KID)