The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

Katie Fitch

Building Relationships with Donors
Katie reading to child

Written by Katie Fitch, Major Gifts Officer 

Each day, at Rainbows, we meet the unique needs of each and every child and their family. It is the level of personal, individualized care that sets Rainbows apart. Customized services are part of our culture. And that goes far beyond the way we treat children and families – it also impacts the way we interact with everyone, especially our donors!

In my role as Major Gift Officer, I get to build personal relationship with donors. We like to think of them as friends of Rainbows. This is done with two interwoven objectives:

First, we want to advance the philanthropic goals of the donor. What’s important to them? How can we help them make an impact?

Simultaneously, we look to advance our mission to enhance the lives of children with special needs and their families by bringing together community resources and providing customized services. Where our mission and the donor’s priorities align – we become perfect partners.

This alignment comes together through the donor cultivation cycle. This concept is a best practice across nonprofit fundraising. In many ways, the process parallels the work our Rainbows’ therapist and care providers do every day.

In philanthropy, we see identification as the first step in the process of donor relations. Through a current donor, a board member, a community connection, or in some other way, we meet a potential donor. This happens in the same sort of way another staff member might take a referral or answer a call from a family seeking services.

Qualification. As Major Gift Officer, I look to determine if the individual or entity might be interested in having a philanthropic relationship with Rainbows. In the fundraising world, this is called “qualification.” It is very similar to the screening and initial evaluation processes one of our therapists might do with a perspective new child or family. In both cases, it’s a matter of determining needs and how we “fit” together.

Cultivation. This is my favorite step. “Cultivation” is all about building relationships – getting to know a perspective donor and helping them get to know Rainbows.

The parallel with our services to children continues. Our Rainbows’ professionals offer the very best in care, treatment, and services to children and families – to bring their potential to life! This might be for a short season, to meet a child’s particular needs. Or, it might be throughout their childhood, depending on their progress, needs, and development. All the services are customized to meet the needs of the child.

And that’s how philanthropic cultivation works too. We meet donors where they are and develop a customized approach, hoping to help further their philanthropic interests and goals, as well as Rainbows’ mission.

Donation. This is the step in the donor cycle that people most often think of. But, it’s actually, typically, the shortest step in the process. This is when I get the opportunity to sit down with a donor and request a contribution. It’s a lot like when one of our Rainbows’ therapist tests or reevaluates a child, to see how they are doing. It’s an opportunity for everyone involved to see how the work is going. Have we met their needs? Are we progressing? If not, what can we do?

Stewardship. Stewardship is the final piece. It is the work of actively reporting, updating, and thanking our philanthropic partnerships. It’s exactly like the relationship one of our practitioners might have with a child and family as they receive services. Even after the child has learned, grown, and developed so much, there is often an opportunity for services to continue or new services are needed.

Then, stewardship leads right back into cultivation and the donor cycle continues. At Rainbows, we are blessed to walk with families through many seasons, as their child grows. Similarly, we are blessed to build long time relationships with our donors and supporters.

I love to see a donor fall in love with our mission and know the impact of their financial investment. And here at Rainbows, I get to do that each day, with individualized, personalized care – as we celebrate the gifts and goals of every individual!

Camp Woodchuck

Participate | Socialize | Play
First Tee at Camp Woodchuck

The first day for the 2019 Camp Woodchuck was Monday, June 3 and both staff and campers were ready. In fact, the theme for Camp this summer is “Wild about Camp”! As many of you know Camp Woodchuck is a summer recreational and leisure day program for more than 100 children and youth with disabilities between the ages of 5 and 21 years. It is a “wild” yet exciting 8 weeks as the campers come together to play, socialize, go on group outings, participate in activities to help the community, and bring joy to so many who have the opportunity to see Camp in action. 

This week I had the pleasure of watching staff and volunteers from First Tee of Greater Wichita work with our youth learning a little about golf. They brought colorful balls, plastic clubs, and different visual targets for the children to aim their shots. I was amazed as each class went through the activities and how eager the campers were in giving it a try. We might have a couple of real golfers in the group! I was especially appreciative of the gentle and respectful way in which the First Tee staff and volunteers worked with each child. Each one is unique and special and First Tee recognized that immediately. 

Camp Woodchuck takes place at Rainbows’ Kids’ Cove location at 2258 N. Lakeway Circle in west Wichita. Services that are provided include transportation to numerous community outings, meals, individual attention, and medication assistance as many of our campers require this support. We hire more than 40 additional staff in the summer to work at Camp each year.

This would all not be possible without the participation of community groups who share their passions at Camp and the monetary support of many. Funders for Camp Woodchuck include United Way of the Plains, Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization, C.J. Memorial Foundation, Fidelity Bank Foundation and WSU AmeriCorp VISTA Program. That is an impressive list of generous individuals and organizations. My sincere thanks to all you contribute to making Camp Woodchuck a successful and memorable experience for all involved. It is special!

Deb Voth, President

Camp Woodchuck

Wild About Camp
Camp Woodchuck

By Lynlea Southards, Family Support Services Program Coordinator

We are excited for Camp Woodchuck 2019! Our theme this year is Wild about Camp Woodchuck. The fun safari theme is integrated into all of our art projects and activities this summer. The staff and kids are having a blast decorating the rooms with all the wild safari animals that the kids have created. 

Throughout the summer we have exciting outings into the community and special events planned. Campers will visit some real wild safari animals at the Sedgwick County Zoo and experience the beauty of nature at Botanica. New this year, the kids will make a big splash at the Maize Splash Park!

Camp Woodchuck special events are a must see. Our first event, June 28, is a Fashion Show that will turn your head. Our campers walk the Runway, showcasing their incredible personalities and fashion. Our second big event, July 19, is the Talent Show. Each child shows their own unique talent and it is an experience you will never forget. The last big event is our Art Show on July 26. The kids will creatively express their wild talents through their art projects, which are put on display for the public’s enjoyment.

We are Wild about Camp Woodchuck and have started our summer journey with fun, friends and memories that will last forever!

Social Emotional Learning

Teaching How to Deal with Emotions

By: Marissa Palacios-Ontiveros, LMSW – MH Specialist and

Carmen Dorton – MH Assistant

Social and emotional learning is an important aspect that needs to be modeled to children at a young age. The earlier that children are exposed to social and emotional education, the earlier children will be able to learn and apply the skills. Social emotional learning is the teaching of how to deal with your emotions adequately on your own or with help from others in a constructive and proactive way.   

In order to teach these skills, an early childhood teacher needs to make sure that the environment is safe for all of the children. As part of building a safe and trustworthy environment, the teacher has to make sure that there is structure and a consistent routine in order to help children self-regulate.  

Some activities that can be included are:

  • Teaching social emotional songs, such as “My School Family” by Jean Hartman. This song helps build trustworthiness not only between the teacher, but also among the students. Here is a link to a video of the song:
  • Reading social and emotional books about feelings and asking open ended questions. Some books addressing social and emotional issues are:

           1. What a Tantrum by Mireille d’Allance

           2. The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum by Deborah Blumenthal

           3. When Sophie Gets Angry Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang

           4. I Hate Everything by Sue Graves

  • Setting clear expectations for children with natural consequences.
  • Creating a safe spot. This area will be a spot that the child can go to when they are feeling angry, sad, frustrated, or upset. It is a tool for the child to use to calm themselves down.

For additional information, please visit the following websites:
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Conscious Discipline