Chelsea Waller-Lopez, 29
Public Relations/Digital Communications Manager
Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic
When Chelsea Waller-Lopez joined the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic development team five years ago, the 100-plus-year-old nonprofit had a minimal online media presence and few digital-marketing strategies.
During her first month, Waller-Lopez hit the ground running, with a campaign to raise money for replacing the windows on the 100-year-old convent property in Ossining. To complement a direct-mail appeal campaign, Waller-Lopez decided to develop materials for media outreach so that broadcasters and print media could cover the story. The original fundraising goal for the campaign was $200,000, but she raised $400,000. The story received media coverage on all major and local news networks and helped drive digital-fundraising efforts Waller-Lopez has been instrumental in raising awareness of the nuns’ missions and she’s singlehandedly increased their Facebook followers from 1,000 to 30,000.
Waller-Lopez has a knack for combining creative fundraising strategies with campaigns that resonate with a younger donor base and capture the media’s attention. She is particularly proud of a story that was covered in People magazine. “We had a nun with ALS who communicates on a digital pad who wanted to meet Pope Francis when he came to New York, so I developed a video of it,” she explains. The social media campaign received 80,000 views and subsequently, the nun received a personal invitation to mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan where she did indeed met with the Pope.
Waller-Lopez’s quick thinking also helped raise $40,000 in 24 hours with an e-mail fundraising campaign following the Guatemalan volcano eruption in 2018 as the sisters do many missions there. “You have to strike when the iron is hot,” Waller-Lopez explains.