Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

 

Janice Cunning, ACC, CPCC, Leadership Coach, Life on Purpose

Values represent who you are, what is most important to you, and how you want to express yourself in the world. As fundraisers we are passionate about discovering our donor’s values and helping them express these through their philanthropy. Sometimes we get caught up in our own work and focused on meeting our goals and we forget to create space to explore and connect with our own core values. When we do this we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

Three positive things happen when you honour your values:

wmi1. You feel motivated to take action

Think about something you need to do that you might have been avoiding. For example, you might have a set of call notes that you need to enter into the database. If this isn’t something you enjoy it can get pushed to the bottom of your list. Your values can help you find the motivation to complete this task authentically. If you value connection, then you can think about entering the notes as a way to deepen the relationship between your organization and the donor. If you value fun, you can make the task into a game by timing yourself and having a reward for beating the clock.

2. You can quiet your gremlins

We all have those voices that keep us stuck in the status quo. It might say you aren’t good enough or convince you that you don’t want to move outside your comfort zone. Truly connecting with your values can help you move forward despite these voices. Perhaps you want to apply for a promotion at work. Your gremlins might ask if you are qualified enough to do that job. They may tell you that a promotion will mean more work and less time for family. Your values are always stronger than the gremlins. If you value purpose then you can approach the decision from that perspective. You can reflect on how this new position will help you have a greater impact on your organization and those it serves.

3. You have a more fulfilling career

Values serve as a compass and point you in the direction of what will be most fulfilling and meaningful to you. This isn’t always easy. If you value honesty then there will be times you need to speak your truth even if it contradicts what your organization is planning to do. You will do this even if you are the lone voice speaking out. If you value stillness there will be times you have to say no people and tasks at work because creating space for yourself is key to your success. When you consciously choose to honour your core values you create a career that truly reflects who you are. And that is the ultimate goal.

So what are your core values? Your values are there inside you and you express them every day. However you may not have articulated them to yourself.

The simplest way to unearth your core values is to explore this question: “What must I have in my life for it to be fulfilling and meaningful?”

This is an exciting question that can be explored in so many ways – in thought, in writing, in pictures, or in conversation. Brainstorm a list of all the possibilities. Make sure you explore fully each aspect of your life. For example you might say I value my career. Explore what values are represented in your work, such as connection, contribution, making a difference, achievement, etc.

Spend a few days creating a list of words and phrases that represent what is most important to you. Use your own words and be creative. Once you have a full list, choose the 5 or 10 that are most important to you.

Now you are ready for the most important part – using your values to guide your choices each and every day. What will you choose to do today?

Janice Cunning is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach trained by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) with over 15 years of experience as a fundraising consultant and researcher. Janice was a Senior Consultant at KCI where she provided coaching to leading university prospect research departments with a focus on strategic planning, teamwork, and communication. Janice will be presenting at Fundraising Day 2015 in Toronto. You can follow her on twitter @janicecunning

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

At almost 30 I still want to change the world. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and I still truly believe that I will do that in my chosen career as a fundraising professional. Some would call me naïve and others would call me ambitious. Recently, I have had two conversations with fundraising colleagues who had completely different vantage points on the topic of ambition.

Colleague One was saying that career ambition is something she feels she should have but does not. While this makes her feel guilty, she has reached the point of wanting the regularity of the 9 to 5 knowing that her non-work life would fulfill her. At the same time, she feels guilty because so many others in our peer group are working toward something different. She also feels a little judged because she found happiness at a level in her career that was/is not enough for others.DON'T QUIT

In contrast, Colleague Two has been chomping at the bit for nearly two years as a fundraiser, making connections and speaking with people on how to innovate their organization. He hustled in the best sense of the word and has not seen the results that he wanted. He says, he has become so frustrated by the sector not embracing his level of ambition he has considered leaving fundraising all together. He is motivated by his desire to support a family but blind ambition has impaired both that goal and his career. His blind ambition is not only impairing his career goals but because he cannot find a job is hindering his ability to reach personal goals, like supporting a family.

I find myself somewhere in the middle of One and Two. There are weeks where I network with industry colleagues almost every day, reading up to 20 fundraising blogs, and checking out job postings to make sure my skills are remaining competitive. Then there are weeks where I just want to go home and catch up with my old friend Netflix. The difficulty of being a young educated professional is that we are bursting with ideas but are not in a position to implement. Some of us are lucky to have supervisors who let us channel this creativity in our roles but I know this is not the case for most.

So what is one to do about all this? How do you channel your ambition is without any of the side effects my colleagues are experiencing? So far this is what I have found works for me:

1) Know thyself. What is your ambition driving you toward? To make a certain salary level, to reach a certain title, to be valuable enough to make your own schedule and hours, to be out of the office in time to take the kids to soccer, or all of the above? Know what it is you want and then be judicious about how you get there. Saying yes to anything is a good way to open doors but if you are not careful it is also a good way to lose focus.

2) Eyes on your own paper. Ambition can be fueled by jealousy and internal expectation. Do your best not to worry what others  and focus on what YOU can be doing to get where you want to go. It is an important reminder of what we all learned at a young age – it does not matter where anyone else on the test, or in this case their career, you will not succeed unless you focus on what you need to do.

3) This is a marathon. As a young professional, you have at least another 35 years ahead of you in your career. You cannot do it all at once.  It can be frustrating in the day to day when ambition or lack thereof is nagging at you but know that whatever you are working toward will all come with time.

As I approach my 30s, I realize that ambition is going to continue to be an important piece of my career puzzle. So fellow fundraisers – how did you figure it out in the early days of your career? Did you find that driving ambition was helpful or tempered level of ambition was just fine?

Let’s talk about it. @charitablelaura

Laura Campion PhotoLaura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy.

Tara George, CFRE, Senior Vice President – Lead, Search Practice at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.), talks career advice with Cynthia Foo, Grants Manager at Environmental Defence.

CF: If you had to pick three “must have” attributes for the fundraiser today, what would you say these would be?

TG: Goal orientation – Regardless of the fundraising role, the individual has to be able to formulate goals, marshal resources, and deliver results. This takes persistence.

Communications savvy – All messages, written and verbal, regardless of channel, have to reinforce the strategy and drive results. Fundraisers have to be exceptional listeners.

Service orientation – The fundraiser has to really seek to spotlight the cause and others’ priorities, rather than one’s own. And if you do that with effective communications savvy, those three things are really fundamental and critical.

CF: How important is the role of a good fundraising manager?

TG: People can learn and model, but training is a factor. In the fundraising world I often hear people describe themselves as a “solo warrior”, or a “lone wolf”. Fundraisers who started young, and never managed other people for example, can get stuck at a certain level because of lack of opportunities to obtain diversity of experience.

So my advice to fundraisers is this: gain people and business management skills – learn about theory, and gain knowledge of best and emerging practices. You don’t become a good manager by accident: continuous learning is a key ingredient of the recipe for success!

CF: What about advice for mid-career fundraisers?

TG: This is the time to broaden your scope of fundraising, gain experience in other areas beyond your narrow field of expertise and prepare for more senior positions. You don’t get to be the CEO if you are just a specialist!

However, I don’t think of a career as a ladder, I think of it as a web. For example, someone who starts in event fundraising may need to go sideways to go up a level. Their event position may lead to an expanded role in communications which develops into learning about digital fundraising, or deeper involvement in annual giving.

I often hear complaints that employers can’t pay for all of employees’ courses and their training, but I say that you are responsible for your life and career – so why wouldn’t you invest in yourself? Don’t let these things stand in the way. I paid for my MBA myself – it was tough, but it was important to my growth, and I’m glad I did it.

CF: What are the three most common mistakes when marketing oneself in the job market?

TG: People come in ready to present their skillsets but they don’t know anything about the organization. Do the research and show your passion and knowledge about the organization and the cause. And it needs to be genuine – you can’t fake it.

The second common mistake is that people are not properly prepared for the interview process. Make sure you understand the role and provide evidence to back up your success. I’m always surprised to see people who can’t clearly identify the metrics of their success – either in percentage or numbers of donors increased. For a group of people who hang their hat on dollars, identifying numbers in their resumes is a must!

Finally, the most common mistake: Being too self-centered – not showing examples of contributing to the success of others and not recognizing the importance of team work.

No one landed their first seven-figure major gift completely single-handedly. Most likely, there was someone who did prospecting, others who did stewardship in the organization and so on. Demonstrating how you work with others is important!

CF: What do you see as reasons for high turnover in the nonprofit sector? And what do you see as the current biggest challenges facing employee retention?

TG: Generally speaking, high turnover in any position in any sector is not healthy and it’s not good for the individual: it can stain their reputation. When there’s supply and demand, the perception that the “grass is greener on the other side” heightens the sense of opportunity. I think people really should do their homework to make sure they can be satisfied and happy where they are and where they think they would like to go.

In my role, I hear people comment that money is the main motivator, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Often people move for personal satisfaction – they want to learn and grow and be challenged. Of course, people want better titles and money. But more importantly, they want to have impact and be engaged in their work, to be respected. Managers can play a huge role in making employees feel really good about their accomplishments and excited about what they’re learning – even when the organization cannot offer more money.

In today’s market, employers are showing less loyalty, so employees are doing the same. I think it’s important that employers hire for values – when that happens, the turnover rates drop. Hire people for their values and retain like-minded people who want to stay.

CF: Thank you so much for your time, Tara! As a parting thought – what are some of the fun things you do in your spare time?

TG: I love to read! I especially love to read novels and read a couple of novels a week. Sometimes I read business books: I enjoyed The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita Gunther-McGrath, which I won as a door prize at Congress. She was an excellent speaker there that year. I also read “Thinking Strategically” by Harvard Business Review, and The First 90 Days by Watkins. Every morning I also scan the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and the Harvard Business Review, in addition to a number of other sites.

 

Tara GeorgeTara George, CFRE – Senior VP Lead, Search Practice, KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.)

As the Lead Consultant for KCI’s Search Practice, Tara has successfully led more than 150 recruitment assignments for a range of non-profit clients across Canada. A respected advancement professional with extensive networks in Canada and beyond, Tara has a clear sense of the strategic vision, leadership skills and business acumen necessary to succeed in the nonprofit arena.

 

CynthiaFooCynthia Foo – Grants Manager, Environmental Defence

Cynthia Foo is the Grants Manager at Environmental Defence,a national environmental charity that just celebrated its 30th anniversary. She helps strategize, secure and steward foundations’ giving to help her organization grow. She also currently sits on the AFP Toronto Ethics Committee, and serves on the Board of the West-End Food Co-op and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto.

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Mentorship, Networking.

Julie Davis, CFRE, Vice President External Relations & Advancement

Trent University

I’ve heard many negative and uninformed comments about my profession as a fundraiser. “You’re that person who keeps sending me letters. I would never stoop to begging for money”. “How can you do this job? It’s ambulance chasing at its worst.” “I don’t know why they hired you. They just finished a capital campaign, what else is there to do?”

I’ve been marginalized, ignored, sneered at and dismissed. I’ve had new hires quit after a few months because they had no idea how hard the job was. I chose to enter the fundraising profession mid-way through a very successful marketing career because after the birth of my daughter and moving to a small town, I wanted to give back, to do something I would be proud to tell my child about at the end of the day.

I was really good at my job, I felt I could sell anything to anybody, so I wanted to make that count towards something important. I had no idea what was involved in being a fundraiser and to be honest I was quite arrogant about bringing my big city international career to the profession of fundraising, especially in a smaller shop.

                               photo credit: Tabo Garcia

I was quickly humbled by the professionalism of the sector, the knowledge of my colleagues and the ability of our volunteers. The Executive Director of a nearby charity came to the “Welcome Julie” Open House just after I arrived and offered his time and expertise. Thankfully I was smart enough to take him up on that offer and we spent hours together – starting with my list of questions that included “what is a major gift”, “what do I put on the board agenda” and “how do I manage volunteers”?

His patience, willingness to share and wise advice has been my experience with so many others in this sector. When I didn’t know how to proceed I “called a friend” and they always took my call. During the lucky thirteen years I have now spent in this profession I’ve had the opportunity to meet with countless donors and talk about why they give.

I’ve learned from volunteers about how to ask for money and never to take no for an answer. I’ve met with the recipients of our charity’s gifts and seen first-hand how we’ve made a difference and why it was so important. I’ve received unsolicited cards from board members and donors thanking me for the work I do for our community (truly!). I’ve had donors thank me for allowing them to be a part of our good work (that one brought a tear to my eye). I am a fundraiser because I have talents that can be put to good use to help others.

I am a fundraiser because I love the opportunity to help people, to say thank you, and to make wonderful connections between people who care passionately about the same things. I am a fundraiser because it’s a necessary and vitally important profession that enriches my life in ways I could never have imagined. Join me and your colleagues at the Congress and celebrate this wonderful profession, make new connections and learn about how we are helping to change the world.

nullJulie Davis, CFRE is Vice President External Relations and Advancement for Trent University where she is responsible for Development, Alumni Affairs, Marketing and Communications, Government and Community Relations and institutional events. The University is celebrating its 50th anniversary and in the midst of a $50m campaign, which includes a recently completed Legacy Campaign that doubled the number of expectancies in just 18 months. Julie Davis will be speaking at Congress 2014 in November. You can follower her on Twitter @julietrentuvp

 

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Mentorship, Networking.

Leah Eustace, ACFRE

Chief Idea Goddess, Good Works

tweetcottage

Has anyone ever done a research study into the general health of fundraisers? If so, I’d love to know about it. I’ve long suspected that we probably suffer more than the rest of the population from heart disease, mental illness, and stress-related disorders.

Why? Well, we’re a naturally giving bunch. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we feel deeply. It’s what drew us to this work, and what makes us good at it. But the flip side is that many of us work particularly long hours, don’t take enough time for exercise and say yes to a lot of (too many?) volunteer opportunities.

What we don’t do enough of us is take quality time for ourselves, with each other, where we’re free from judgment, can say what’s on our mind, can ask for help, and can freely express our opinions.

Yep, I’m talking group fundraiser therapy. I’m a big fan of it.

For the last three years, I’ve been getting together on a regular basis with a dynamic group of female non-profiteers. We spend a long weekend every summer at a cottage (where anything goes, and we fit a little pro-bono work in, too). We get together at a women’s only spa the day before Congress every year (just message me if you’re interested in joining us for #TweetSpa). And, we even have a private Facebook group where we can ask and say anything that’s on our mind (this is particularly great for our small shop friends, who can run fundraising ideas by the rest of us, ask for a second set of eyes on fundraising plans or letters, or just generally rant about such things as dysfunctional boards… not that those exist ;)).

It’s one of the best things in my professional and personal life, and I think the idea should spread. What’s stopping us from gathering many a group of like-minded fundraisers for group therapy and group support? How about you men get together for #TweetScotch? Or how about we spread my good friend, Paul Nazareth’s, #NetWalk idea across the country (just tweet him @UInvitedU for details)?

I task each and every one of you to pull together your therapy group during Congress. Go out for a drink together, grab dinner, or head to the spa. I PROMISE, it will be good for you, mind, body and soul.

staff_leah (2)Leah Eustace, ACFRE, is Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works. She and Scott Fortnum, ACFRE, will be presenting on the Psychology of Giving at Congress on Monday, November 24th at 2:00pm. Leah will be feeling very zen, having attended #TweetSpa the day before. You can follow her on twitter @LeahEustace, or send her an email at leah@goodworksco.ca

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Gayle Goossen

President and Creative Director, Barefoot Creative

I am a storyteller.

I personally write hundreds of appeals and newsletters every year. I love crafting a fundraising offer – it is personal, attention-gripping and, yes, it can be transformational. But let me share a tiny insight – a challenge I run into almost every day.

Fundraising organizations exchange organizational information for the power of a story. I have no idea why. We know that a story engages far more centres in the brain. We know that a story invites the readers to read more. We know that stories motivate compassion and response.

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                                                   photo credit: Enokson

It seems to me fundraising organizations should be champions of storytelling.

Perhaps it comes from the misnomer that education happens in a lecture. I’m not sure who started that myth. I know that educators world-wide perpetuate it. But it is simply not true. Current studies in brain response to story affirm the power of storytelling

As a young student I attended two graduation exercises. The same speaker spoke at both of them. Idealist that I am, and the fact that there was significant overlap in the audience, I expected him to deliver 2 different speeches.

But he didn’t.

Fascinatingly, I didn’t catch on until his first story. Then, as I listened more attentively, I realized that he hadn’t bothered to change anything. I only remembered the story. It seemed to me that he would have been brilliant if he had simply replaced the story – no one would have known. The most poignant memory of his speech was the story.

The story challenges the listener or reader to link analogies, discover the journey, build the bridges between characters. Most of all, the story introduces us to people who are  like us and not like us – but just enough like us to make us interested in their lives. Listeners and readers immediately begin to solve the story’s core problems, cheering for the hero and booing the villain. The brain imagines the scene, the character, the problem and the solution.

The great storyteller begins with an innate sense of curiosity. The storyteller is on a quest to understand why and who and how and what and where. They want to understand the poignant details. (Join me at the national AFP conference…. I’ll share concrete examples there)

My husband just doesn’t get it. Seriously (but then, he’s not a story teller). When he gets off the phone with his mother – I have about 57 questions. Did he think to ask one of them? Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it got the story. (More at the conference… )

Your depiction of the people in the story must be human – even if they live in another country, there are thousands of ways they can relate to your audience. You need to find them in your neighbourhood, down your street, in the mall… you can make them human by the way you describe them. As the longevity and universal appeal of Shakespeare has illustrated many. Many times – the human story has not changed all that much.

As a writer/fundraiser/ storyteller you tell some extremely difficult stories. That is a distinct gift. Hone it!

Gayle is the founder and president of Barefoot Creative. For more than 20 years she has been walking alongside nonprofits, helping to develop and implement fund raising strategies that inspire donors to engage and contribute. Her academic background and graduate degree in Canadian Literature and Post-Modern Critical Theory inspire a unique approach to applying foundational fund development and marketing strategies to help non-profits grow. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy.

Adam Lowy, Executive Director, Move For Hunger

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of creating real change. Nonprofit organizations talk about this quite a bit when they’re communicating with donors and foundations. You see it all the time in social media posts and fancy marketing pieces. But what does this really mean? Are we, as non-profit organizations, actually fixing problems, or are we just raising awareness that change needs to happen?

When I founded Move For Hunger five years ago, I really didn’t know much about the non-profit space. I didn’t even know anything about hunger – the problem I was trying to affect. Rather than start with a cause, we were able to work backwards with the solution.

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        .photo credit: SomeDriftwood

My family has owned a moving company for over 90 years. After years of seeing non-perishable food get thrown away when people moved, we decided to ask people to donate their food during their moves. Our moving company was in the home anyway, so it really didn’t create any extra work. The food bank was just a few miles away. It just kind of made sense. Customers LOVED it! And why wouldn’t they? People want to work with companies that give back to the community. Companies are always looking for new ways to connect with customers. Add in the donation of food to local food banks and we’ve created a win – win – win!

We’ve since grown to mobilize over 600 moving companies across the US to deliver over 3.5 million pounds of food to our nation’s food banks and pantries; this is enough to provide over 3 million meals to individuals in need. With over 50 million Americans struggling with hunger, our work is only just getting started.

As Move For Hunger continues to grow, I find myself thinking about what we are really doing here. The real problem we are tackling is food waste. 40% of all food is wasted. The simple idea of rescuing food when people move is actually quite powerful when you scale it throughout an entire industry across an entire continent.  We are literally changing the business processes of hundreds of small businesses and mobilizing them for a common cause. By creating a process that both moving companies and consumers want to participate in, we can guarantee its sustainability for generations to come.

If our goal, as nonprofit organizations, is actually to fix problems, then we need to begin to think more about process oriented solutions. We need more collaboration with our for-profit counterparts. We need to mobilize existing resources in a way that doesn’t detract from the bottom line. Companies won’t cut charitable initiatives that are helping increase profits.

In order to actually solve so many of the major problems our world is facing, we need to think less about our brand and our donors, and more about the sustainability and impact of the programs we put in place. If Move For Hunger was to shut its doors tomorrow, there would be hundreds of moving companies rescuing food and delivering it to those in need. If we are able to create an industry standard, then there is no need for our organization to exist, and we can move on to the next problem to be solved.

I am encouraged by the innovation I have seen in the nonprofit space over the past few years, and challenge some of our nation’s leading charitable institutions to take a step back and ask the question: Is the work we do actually fixing a problem or merely providing a short term solution? Though both create value, only one creates real change.

Adam Headshot (2)After seeing so much food go to waste, Adam launched Move For Hunger to mobilize relocation companies to rescue food during the move. Adam was included among Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2014 and proudly represents the NYC Hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. In 2011 he became a Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellow and was honored at the VH1 Do Something Awards and NBC American Giving Awards.

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Leadership/Management.

Maeve Strathy

It’s the summer. We’re all staring longingly out our office windows (if we’re lucky enough to have them), wondering why on earth we’re stuck inside working when we could be enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and this brief period of time in Canada where we don’t need a jacket or coat of any sort. Prospects aren’t returning our calls or emails, our colleagues are all taking turns going on vacations, and it’s hard to find the motivation to get back to the work in front of us.

I’ve had a few of these moments lately myself. Despite the lack oSummerKitef motivation, summer is an important time for planning and preparing for the new fundraising year. It’s during these quieter months at work that we have the rare opportunity to sit and think; analyze what worked this past year, strategize about what we need to change, plan out our mailings, and firm up our stewardship processes. It all sounds well and good, but there’s one problem…

I just can’t find the inspiration! Where is that passion I had for my job a few months ago? So naturally I turned to Facebook and asked my friends, what do you do in this situation? How do you motivate yourself?

One of my very wise friends said, “I have stuff on my wall in my office to remind me of the outcomes of my work.” Brilliant! And then I turned and saw a card on my desk that I received from an alumna of the institution who was selected this year for our annual Philanthropy Award. She wrote me to thank me for my help in preparing her for the event that honoured her. She wanted to thank me! She has a great philanthropic story to tell; she’s never given more than $350 in any given year, but she’s given to the university every single year since she graduated. Every year!

Even better, her gifts have been designated annually to pretty much wherever the funds were needed most. In many cases she’s directed her gift to our unrestricted fund, giving the university the flexibility to respond to unforeseen emergencies or even worthwhile opportunities. She’s given to the library many times, too! Her gifts directly impact students, and that’s what I’m here for in the first place.

Speaking of students, next to the card on my desk is a photo of a student and a donor. This donor created a financial assistance opportunity at the university in memory of his deceased son. I had the opportunity to set up a meeting between the donor and this year’s recipient of his award which gave the donor the chance to truly see the impact of his philanthropy. The student expressed – eloquently, I might add – his gratitude to the donor, and he shared what he plans to do with his life after university. It was so rewarding to witness a donor seeing the effect his generosity has on an actual student.

All of us fundraisers, wherever we work, are here to raise money to make an impact. The outcomes of our work are clear; we are so lucky in that sense. Other professionals out there might struggle to see the point sometimes, but fundraising professionals know exactly what they’re here to do, and we have lots of examples that can motivate us through even the sunniest of days.

Maeve is the FounderMaeve Strathy of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past seven years. Learn more about Maeve and connect with Maeve via: Twitter | LinkedIn | Email | Web