Collidescope.io’s 5 in 3 Non-Profit Leadership Series: Erin Ulmer, Executive Director of Camp Rise Above

Camp Rise Above is a unique non-profit organization that provides fun, life changing camp experiences to children with serious illnesses, life challenges, and disabilities

Welcome to Collidescope.io’s 5 in 3 non-profit leadership series. We ask non-profit leaders all over the world to answer 5 question about their non-profit experience to create this 3-minute piece. Collidescope.io’s mission is to empower organizations to thrive, inspire, and serve the world. Though we primarily do this through technology, providing a platform to share the stories and experiences of leaders in the non-profit space is also an important part of executing on that mission.

I am pleased to introduce Erin Ulmer. Erin is the Executive Director of Camp Rise Above (CRA) in Charleston, SC. As director, Erin creates and oversees life-changing camp programs for children with special medical needs and life challenges, giving them a safe place to connect with others and learn about their individual strengths. She has over a decade of nonprofit experience, along with experience as an elementary educator. In 2014, Erin became the first employee of CRA and has overseen the organization’s growth since. With a passion for the children and families she serves, Erin has led CRA to significantly increase its operating budget, programs offered, and children served across the state. Erin was recognized as one of Charleston’s 40 Under 40 by the Charleston Regional Business Journal and enjoys volunteering with various other organizations in her community.

How did you get your start in the non-profit space?

I was a student worker at Alumni Relations while I attended college at College of Charleston, giving me experience with fundraising databases and event planning. After school, I worked for Historic Columbia Foundation as the Development and Membership Coordinator, continuing to gain that experience. I then took a break to get my Masters in teaching and spent several years as an educator before returning to the nonprofit sector to lead CRA.

What is one challenge you’ve encountered that you didn’t expect while working for a non-profit?

I am still surprised when I see nonprofits competing with one another instead of working together. I firmly believe that there is room in our community for all groups doing good work, and that by working together and pooling our expertise and resources, we can make an even greater impact. Not all organizations necessarily follow this model, but it has served CRA (and those we serve) well. There are plenty of seats at the table; if there aren’t, we need a bigger table.

What is one opportunity you’ve identified because of the changes due to COVID-19?

I think that the pandemic has allowed organizations to be more transparent and candid in their communications with supporters. Everyone feels a new sense of kinship this year and being authentic about our struggles and successes is what our supporters crave from us. Letting go of everything being polished and perfect has allowed us to form more personal connections, even as we are physically apart.

What is your most effective fundraising medium?

Mail

What is one fundraising rule you live by?

If you have to ask for a donation, you’re doing it wrong. Creating a connection with others, sharing the mission of the work we do, and learning how we can best work together naturally leads to meaningful support. It’s not about money; it’s about relationships.

Thank you for sharing your story Erin.

You can learn more about Camp Rise Above and Erin below.

Erin Ulmer, Executive Director of Camp Rise Above

Camp Rise Above: www.campriseabove.org/

Erin on LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/3qJLOwH

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