Sarah Ford | September 24, 2014

How Lauren Zimniski Applies Purpose to Work Through Her Role With Give Kids The World

Each year 27,000 children are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and more than half of those children wish to visit a Central Florida attraction or theme park.  As a 70-acre, non-profit, storybook resort in Central Florida that provides unforgettable, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, Give Kids The World Village’s (GKTW) goal is to provide the happiness that inspires hope to these precious children along with the opportunity to create family memories that will last a lifetime. Since 1986, with the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 127,000 families from all 50 states and over 74 countries.

In this Q&A, Lauren Zimniski, Manager, Development at Give Kids The World, shares her role and experience working for GKTW.

Q&A With Lauren Zimniski:

What attracted you to this job & particular cause?

In college, I was involved with a few different service projects that dealt with improving education and quality of life in impoverished communities in Nicaragua. From those experiences, I became passionate about applying purpose to my work.

When I first learned about Give Kids The World, I immediately felt connected to their mission. You can’t help but get goose bumps when you know that thousands of children’s wishes have been fulfilled at Give Kids The World. Not only is it a vacation for the wish child, but it’s a respite for the whole family to regroup and have the opportunity to make memories together. Knowing that my work can facilitate happiness and hope for thousands was a huge factor in why I was attracted to this position. 

Walk us through a “typical” day in your shoes. How are you making an impact through your work?

I work with families, school groups or businesses on creating their own fundraisers. We brainstorm ideas together and come up with the best option for them. This past month I have been incredibly busy managing workplace giving. I’ve been traveling to Kick-Off events to spread our mission to thousands of employees across the country. It is always exciting to speak with people about Give Kids The World. You can see a little sparkle in their eye when I talk about our Castle of Miracles, and everyone always smiles when I tell them that we have an Ice Cream Palace that opens at 7:30 every the morning.  

What do you find most rewarding about your job at the end of the day?

At the end of the day, I can walk through the Village and see the difference I am making. Being able to see families smiling, laughing and having fun is really impactful. I also love speaking with our volunteers and hearing their experiences. We not only impact the lives of those staying with us, but our volunteers are impacted as well. 

If you had a list of ‘best-kept secrets’ or advice you’d give to anyone with a similar position, what would it be and why?

People want to get involved if they feel connected to a cause. I invite prospective donors to the Village so they can actually see what their donations do for our families, or I send a testimonial written by a former wish family about their experience and the impact that GKTW has made on their family. Connecting people emotionally is important, and showing them the impact of what their contribution can do is even more powerful.  

Looking out 3 to 5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change in your industry?

There are so many amazing nonprofits and causes. We’re all competing for the same funding to keep our missions alive. In the past few years, social media has been a huge influence on how we raise money and awareness. It’s hard to predict what the next big thing will be.  

Our thanks to Lauren Zimniski for sharing her time and expertise with us!  To learn more about the impact Give Kids The World is making, click here to visit their website and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and FlickrClick here to support their work with a donation.

The primary goal for any nonprofit is to get people to support that nonprofit’s cause so they can make an impact. But, behind each of those causes are hard-working individuals, actively involved in making that impact happen. Through our Making Impact Blog Series, we’re going behind the scenes with America’s Charities member organizations to learn how they’re making impact happen and share insights and advice from the staff and volunteers supporting these initiatives.


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