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Welcome to the Fit Fundraising Podcast, where we bring you game-changing fundraising topics, direct from our meetings with major donors and non-profits nationwide. While most consultants are busy giving advice, Fit Fundraising stays on the front lines with non-profits and major donors. This podcast is a glimpse into our world of work with non-profits as we get on the field with them and successfully model fundraising. Get ready to get fit with the hottest show in fund development, Fit Fundraising.

Roy Jones: Hi, I’m Roy Jones, and welcome to the Fit Fundraising Podcast. Today, we’ve got a great program for you. I’ve got Reverend Tony Marciano, President Emeritus of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He has pastored three churches, has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Jersey City State College, has been married for 40 years to Dorothy, and has three adult children. He truly is a legend in this industry, with remarkable contributions to Charlotte and its people. Tony, thanks for joining us today.

Reverend Tony Marciano: Roy, it’s good to be here. Thank you for having me on the show.

Roy Jones: We are honored. There’s a bit of noise here from our crowd, but we’ll push through it. Tell me a little about your ministry. Of course, the big news is your new role as President Emeritus, which is just 48 hours old.

Reverend Tony Marciano: Actually, it’s now 49 and a half hours. I retired on Sunday at 3:07 PM. We had a ceremony, and I retired right after it. Trina Fuller is my successor. We dedicated our brand-new building, which is 40,000 or 70,000 square feet and five stories high. We had over a thousand people in attendance.

Roy Jones: Wow, unbelievable. Now tell me, how many people do you serve today compared to 28 years ago?

Reverend Tony Marciano: Last night, we served over 300 people in our program beds, helping them recover and rebuild their lives from years of active addiction. 28 years ago, we had roughly 120 people in our program. Back then, it was a 90-day program for about 110 men and 12 women. Today, the initial programs are four and a half months long. We also built a new 120-bed facility for women 12 years ago and launched a life skills program housed in a restaurant called Community Matters Cafe five years ago.

Roy Jones: So, it’s teaching as well as modeling entrepreneurship?

Reverend Tony Marciano: No, not really. It’s not about learning hospitality or entrepreneurship. The average age for someone who started using drugs and is a resident of the Charlotte Rescue Mission is 13 years old. Emotionally, they’re stuck at that age. We help them catch up on life skills they need to thrive in society. It’s not designed to teach them food services or the hospitality industry but to teach them life skills in a real-world laboratory disguised as a restaurant.

Roy Jones: Wow, it’s unbelievable the impact trauma has on people, isn’t it?

Reverend Tony Marciano: It’s horrific. People see our homeless neighbors and wonder what happened, but there’s long-term physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse involved. This is called complex PTSD. Three things happen to the brain: the hippocampus, the learning center, shrinks; the prefrontal cortex, the executive office, shuts down; and the amygdala, the reptilian brain, gets stuck in a fight, flight, or freeze mode. Our residents have complex PTSD and need more than just a key to an apartment with wraparound services.

Roy Jones: But they do begin to survive, thrive, and function in the community, correct?

Reverend Tony Marciano: We don’t like the word survive because it implies just keeping them alive. Our focus is on transformation. A hundred percent of the people we serve have an addiction to drugs and alcohol. We work from the inside out to address the root cause, which for an addict is shame. Unless we deal with that root cause, nothing good is going to happen.

Roy Jones: Over the last 28 years, is there any way to calculate the number of life transformations that have happened through this ministry?

Reverend Tony Marciano: Thousands of people have come through the doors of Charlotte Rescue Mission. We average about 600 men and 300 women annually. Forty-five percent complete the program, and 86 percent are still clean and sober six months after completing it. But it’s not just about being clean and sober; it’s about thriving. Romans 8:37 says, “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Roy Jones: Wow, what an amazing program. Talk to me about leadership in our movement.

Reverend Tony Marciano: Leaders need deep spiritual maturity. Consistency between what they preach on Sunday and how they live Monday through Saturday is crucial. People in rescue missions can see through fraud quickly. Humility and gratitude are also key. Being teachable and fearless is vital because problems are always going to occur. As a leader, you need to charge forward and make impossibilities a reality.

Roy Jones: What do you think are some common mistakes in how people approach helping others heal and recover from trauma?

Reverend Tony Marciano: Nobody looks at the backstory. People see someone sleeping on the streets and think they need more affordable housing. But there’s often a history of severe abuse. For example, one of our graduates shared that her stepfather raped her for seven years, and her mother allowed it to keep a roof over their heads. We need to address not just the symptoms but the root causes of trauma and addiction.

Roy Jones: Wow. Last question. If you were to give guidance to an aspiring fundraiser, what would it be?

Reverend Tony Marciano: Find a mentor. When I started at Charlotte Rescue Mission, I asked Del Maxfield from the Denver Rescue Mission to mentor me for five years. Our conversations were life-changing. Also, get certified. I became a CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) in 2014. CEOs need to articulate the why of their agency and why donors should support them.

Roy Jones: Tony, thank you so much for the time. This was amazing and insightful. Congratulations again on 28 years.

Reverend Tony Marciano: Thank you.

Roy Jones: Now, President Emeritus, we are honored to have your input and direction. To our audience, last year, Fit Fundraising helped 41 non-profits with free fundraising counsel. Eight of them went on to hire us. If you need help with any aspect of fund development, we can help you. Thanks for joining us. Thank you again, Tony.

Reverend Tony Marciano: My pleasure. Thank you, Roy

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