Monday, July 11, 2016

Transforming Ideas into Giving: A Conversation with Jennifer Trengove, Major Gifts Officer

I’ve always believed that a person’s office is a reflection of its occupant’s values, a glimpse into their world from an outsider’s perspective. Walking into Jennifer Trengove’s office, you wouldn’t get the
Jennifer Trengove, Major Gifts Officer
feel that you’ve walked into a typical Major Gift Officer’s work area; there’s no extravagant grandeur, no heavy set mahogany furniture and fake corner plants collecting dust. There’s also no pictures of Jennifer with high-powered people casually shaking hands or cutting a ribbon with dangerously over-sized scissors; the room is, for the most part, simple, perhaps the only vestige of splendor being a picture of a Red Cross nurse draped in the American flag that hanging on the wall unassumingly behind her desk. For other development officers, this may be too simple, but I think it fits well with Jennifer and, for an agency like the Red Cross that assists families after they have lost everything to disaster, less is definitely more.  

Jennifer is one of a handful of paid staff in the South Plains Red Cross office, a rarity in an organization that is overwhelmingly a volunteer workforce. As the Major Gifts Officer, Jennifer is tasked with soliciting and developing large donations and is an Ambassador to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. It’s not an especially easy job given that she covers thirty-five counties in the panhandle region. A day in her heels translates to long hours and driving. Tons of driving. Speaking with Jennifer, though, I feel that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Previously, the Scottsdalian-turned-Lubbockite worked in sales, an experience much like her current work. In fact, it's what led her to the Red Cross. “I was working for an advertising company and one of my co workers went to work for the Red Cross.’ I remember thinking, ‘The Red Cross? How do you go from advertising sales to the Red Cross?’” Fate answered Jennifer's question soon after. “In the meantime, a lady I know bought a table at the Volunteer Symposium that was hosted by the Volunteer Center of Lubbock… the center sent me a survey beforehand about our values. They made these lanyards with three organizations here in Lubbock and three causes that matched our interests. One of mine was disaster relief. I thought, how can I volunteer and go to work full time and raise my daughter, and this position popped up! It was a sign, the best of all worlds.”

Motivating people to give is never easy, though. Jennifer battles misconceptions among donors that seem to share a common theme. One is a common belief that the American Red Cross is a federal agency and doesn’t need donations. Jennifer explains: “We hold a government charter. All that means is that the government has written a specific law that makes us responsible for certain duties; service to the armed forces and disaster relief. We’re a nonprofit, we’re not part of the government.” It's not the only problem that people bring up. “Another issue is transparency; how much is what a person is giving actually going to the mission? The Red Cross, our latest statistics, show that 90% of donations go directly to the mission. That’s ninety cents for every dollar, which is amazing.”

For Jennifer, these problems detract from the positives of donating to the Red Cross. That includes huge steps on the national level. “Our new CEO, when she came into the job a few years ago, we were $600 million in debt, with a $200 million operating deficit. Today we’re debt free, we’re in budget. I think it speaks a lot about or mission and that we care about being good stewards of the donor’s money and being cognizant of how we spend money.” Most of all, she credits the weight of the mission for why people give, a spark that donor feel when they understand where their money is going to a trustworthy cause. “People are empathetic to suffering, to families whose home burns down to the ground or not having a place to live because of a tornado. They hear about our work after the earthquakes in Nepal or Haiti. They feel that connection to our mission.”

That’s Jennifer Trengove: dog aficionado, mom, Major Gifts Officer for the American Red Cross. While that seems like a full plate, it doesn’t look like Jennifer’s slowing down anytime soon; “I love working here – it’s great. It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the people.”

Interested in giving to the Red Cross? Good idea, so take the next step. Contact Jennifer at

Steven Lara
Volunteer - American Red Cross

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pregnant in a Refugee Camp

Editor's note: This post was originally published on the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies webpage.

By Niki Clark, American Red Cross

Citegetse Laurence is due at any moment.

Literally. “I’m past nine months pregnant,” she says with a grin. A maternity ward nurse at the Tanzania Red Cross Society hospital in the Mtendeli refugee camp, she is more than familiar with the ins and outs of giving birth. And as a refugee that recently escaped the violence of her home country of Burundi, she’s more than familiar with the challenges of being pregnant in such an environment. Unfortunately, Citegetse is not alone.

June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a day recognized by the United Nations to highlight the situation of people like Citegetse. She is just one of nearly 20 million refugees around the world; 42,500 people are forcibly displaced every day.

 The doctors at this hospital see an average of 120 patients per day. With refugees being transferred to Mtendeli from the overcrowded Nyarugusu camp three hours to the south at the rate of 1,500 a week, that number only continues to grow. Of those 120 daily patients, on average, 50 are pregnant.

Walk into the hospital any day of the week and you’ll hear the cries of newborns and see their mothers breastfeeding. Walk throughout the camp and you’ll see pregnant mothers everywhere. One doctor tells me it that the high fertility rate of Burundian women is their way of replacing the many they have lost. It’s a heartbreaking way to think about new life in the world.

Wireyeimane Anittra, 23, fled Burundi in September, just over 3 months pregnant. She’s one of the lucky ones; her husband and son managed to escape with her. She was the first woman to give birth in the new hospital. She said she felt better once arriving because she was supported by medical staff. In appreciation, she named her son Sospeter Mtendeli; Sospeter after her nurse and Mtendeli after the hospital. Just two weeks old, he nurses at her breast, ten tiny fingers and toes, soft wavy curls plastered by the heat on his head.

The maternity ward at the Red Cross Mtendeli hospital is clean and inviting, a rarity and refuge in an otherwise chaotic environment. There’s no ultrasound machine. The head of the hospital, Dr. George Lukindo, teaches staff to read the signs of fetal stress through other measures. Electricity isn’t always a given, so equipment is often sterilized through propane fire. But there is an oxygen machine and heat lamps for premature babies. Patients receive prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner and the beds are larger than many maternity wards across the continent. Currently caesarian sections have to be referred to the local hospital but plans for an operating theatre will enable doctors to perform them onsite.

According to Dr. George, one of the biggest issues is that pregnant mothers don’t come into the hospital until just hours before birth. To counter that, the Red Cross Health Information Team (HIT) , refugee volunteers who go door to door to let people know about service availability and health promotions, have been spreading the word about the hospital, particularly to pregnant women.

Citegetse lost her first child and husband in Burundi right before she fled. In addition to working here, she has gotten her prenatal care here and plans on giving birth here. While the memories of her family still haunt her, she finds a joy in her work in the maternity ward.

“I love my job,” she said. “It is joyful to have social relationships with others and not think about the past.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal of 5,245,197 million Swiss francs to support the Tanzania Red Cross Society as it responds to this unfolding crisis. The appeal aims to assist 250,000 refugees in the Nyarugusu and Mtendeli camps through the provision of basic health care, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, shelter, disaster preparedness and risk reduction and capacity building.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Honor Roll: Annual Disaster Giving Program and Disaster Responder

Through the generosity of our American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) and Disaster Responder members, the American Red Cross is prepared before disaster strikes. ADGP and Disaster Responder members help secure a reliable funding base for disaster relief services that enables the Red Cross to respond immediately, meeting the needs of individuals and families affected by disaster, regardless of cost.

Right now the Red Cross is on the ground in Texas and taking action with the support of our ADGP and Disaster Responder partners.

Current ADGP $1M members are:
·         American Airlines
·         Anheuser-Busch Foundation
·         Anthem Foundation
·         Boise Paper
·         Caterpillar Foundation  
·         Costco Wholesale
        Delta Air Lines
·         Disney
·         Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation
·         FedEx Corporation
·         The Home Depot
·         Humble Bundle
·         LDS Charities
·         Lowe's Companies, Inc.
·         Mazda North American Operations
·         Merck Foundation
·         Nationwide Foundation
·         State Farm
·         Target
·         UPS
·         VSP Vision care for life
·         Walmart and the Walmart Foundation

Current ADGP $500k members are:
·         3M
·         Altria Group
·         American Express
·         Aon
·         Bank of America
·         BNY Mellon
·         Capital One
·         Cisco Foundation
·         Citi Foundation
·         ConAgra Foods Foundation
·         CSX
·         Darden Restaurants Foundation
·         Discover
           Edison International
 Farmers Insurance
  Ford Motor Company
·         Grainger
·         John Deere Foundation
·         Johnson Controls
·         Medtronic
·         Meijer
·         Mondel─ôz International Foundation
·         National Grid
·         PepsiCo Foundation
·         Prudential Foundation
·         Southwest Airlines
·         Sprint
·         Sunoco
·         The TJX Companies, Inc.
·         United Airlines
·         United Technologies Corporation
·         Visa
·         Wawa
·         Wells Fargo

Current Disaster Responder members are:
·         Alcoa
·         Almost Family
·         Astellas USA Foundation
·         AT&T
·         AvalonBay Communities, Inc.
·         AXA
·         Ball Foundation
·         BHP Billiton
·         CarMax
·         The Clorox Company
·         Cox Automotive
·         Duke Energy
·         Entergy Corporation
·         General Motors Foundation
·         Hewlett Packard Enterprise Foundation
·         Hi-Rez Studios
·         HP Company Foundation
·         IBM Corporation
·         IKEA
·         Ingersoll Rand Foundation
·         Interstate All Battery Center
·         Land O’Lakes, Inc.
·         MetLife Foundation
·         Morgan Stanley
·         Neiman Marcus Group
·         New Balance Foundation
·       Northrop Grumman Corporation
·         Northwestern Mutual and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation
·         Procter & Gamble Company
·         PSEG Foundation
·         PuroClean Disaster Recovery
·         Red Heart Yarns
·         Residence Inn by Marriott
·         Ryder
·         ScriptRelief
·         Sealed Air
·         Servpro Industries, Inc.
·         Southeastern Grocers Home of BI-LO Harveys Winn Dixie
·         Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Foundation, Inc.
·         T O Y O T A
·         U.S. Bank
·         U-Haul International