The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Often, it starts with a tragedy, illness, or fueling an ambition. Then it goes viral, raising thousands of dollars for someone in need or for a particular cause. This is the new world of direct giving. But as we see more personal crowdfunding, questions are raised about why we give, how the funds are distributed and what we expect of the role of community and the state in supporting one another. The Agenda takes a look the state of charitable giving in the age of disruptive technology. This program features Caroline Riseboro – AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board Member and Senior VP of Development with CAMH Foundation.
Posts Categorized: Leadership/Management
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 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.
Cynthia 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.
Julie Davis, CFRE, Vice President External Relations & Advancement
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.
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.
Julie 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
Amy Eisenstein, MPA, ACFRE
Consultant, Tri Point Fundraising
Are you as happy as you could be at work? Do you have good work habits? Think of how much more you could accomplish (and raise) if you adopt a few proven strategies to not only to survive, but to thrive at your organization.
Two Key Strategies
There are two strategies that will help you lead a happier life AND excel at raising major gifts. Two birds with one stone.
- Think Happy Thoughts
- Build Better Habits
.Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising, one of my sessions at Congress, covers these key strategies.
1. Think Happy Thoughts
It has been well documented that meaningful work, happiness, and productivity are all interconnected. In other words — if you’re doing meaningful work you’ll be happier, and if you’re happier you’ll be more productive. But as you know — perhaps even from your current job — sometimes even the most meaningful work can be stressful, tedious, and discouraging.
The good news for us is that a study called the Happiness at Work Survey showed that people who work in caregiving or direct service are 75% more likely to be happy. That includes a lot of people in the nonprofit sector. Of course, as fundraisers, we’re not always on the front lines, but we’re pretty close. So how can we change to make ourselves as happy as the people on the front lines?
- It starts with positive thinking
I am a true believer in the power of positive thinking. If you think you can, you can. I assure you, this is not a case of “wishful thinking” — there’s actually science behind it. So, what if when we’re asking for a major gift, we expect the best, instead of assuming the worst? How might you act differently if you expected the very best?
- Happier people are more generous
Another reason to “Think Happy Thoughts” is that happy people give more to charity. That’s pretty important information for you to have as a fundraiser. Harvard Business School produced a working paper called Feeling Good About Giving, which showed: “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier.” Incredible! The more you give, the happier you are, and the happier you are, the more you give. How awesome is that? And doesn’t it make sense that happy people would want to be around other happy people? So if you’re happy, it’s more likely that your donors will want to be around you. That’s pretty important for major gift fundraising.
2. Build Better Habits
According to current research, in order to break an old habit and create a new one, you need to find a reward to help you feel happy about whatever you’re trying to create as your new habit.
- Make a habit of meeting with donors
One of the bad habits many development directors have is working from their desks, instead of being out, meeting with donors. How can you have relationships with your donors from behind your desk? You may feel stuck at your desk and overwhelmed with work. But being stuck at your desk is only a habit or work pattern — and it can be broken. Once your make getting out and meeting with donors on a regular basis a top priority — that will become your habit. It’s not easy, but the long-term payoff is huge.
- Properly train your board members
Another bad habit your organization may have is recruiting and training board members without any expectation of fundraising. It’s something I run into all the time. It makes me sad when board members haven’t been recruited properly or trained, and then are expected to raise funds. So if one of your organization’s bad habits is recruiting board members without the expectation of fundraising, or not providing your board members with ongoing fundraising training, I strongly encourage you to replace your bad habits. Change the culture of your board and organization by starting to recruit and train your board members properly. Download this board member expectation form from my website.
- Reinforcing your good habits
As I mentioned, in order to eliminate bad habits and reinforce good habits you need to reward yourself. So, after you get out and meet with your donors or recruit a new board member with a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, what can you do to reward yourself and reinforce the new habit? It doesn’t have to be big: It can be a walk around the block, listening to your favorite song or even dancing around the office. Of course, we’ll go into much more depth at Congress, so I hope to see you there.
You’ll find more super-useful tips for becoming a better fundraiser and building a better board in my complementary eBooks – Simple Things You’re NOT Doing to Raise More Money and 6 Essential Secrets for Board Retreats that Work.
Best wishes for your fundraising success!
Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is a respected author, speaker, and fundraising consultant, as well as the owner of Tri Point Fundraising, a full-service nonprofit consulting firm. Her specialty is simplifying the fundraising process for her followers and clients. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.
Siobhan Aspinall, CFRE
Senior Manager, Major Gifts, Junior Achievement of British Columbia
At Congress this year, I’m going to talk about involving non-fundraising staff in donor stewardship. You’d be crazy not to! So let’s think about who to take on that next donor visit and how to make them successful.
In the past, I was guilty of defaulting to the chiefs. I’d automatically bring along a board member, maybe even the chair or my CEO.
But if donor stewardship is about showing people the impact of their gift, then why not go straight to the source and bring along a person who actually delivers your programs? They might not be as polished as the CEO, but I bet they’ll be more interesting – mainly because they are so much closer to the work.
Don’t get me wrong – I know this approach can backfire. There’s maybe a very good reason that we don’t often invite the programs team along for sensitive visits as you can’t possibly prep them for every question or comment that might come up. However, I think it’s worthwhile to try. Start with these tips to set up your colleague for success on a donor visit:
- Book your program colleague for an informal briefing a couple
of days before the donor meeting.
- Tell them about the donor – how much they’ve given, what their interests are, and above all, what kind of personality they have.
- Emphasize more than once that the visit is informal and that we’re not going to ask for money.
- Do a bit of a role play. The fundraiser should start, as she has the relationship. Then let the donor talk, then cue up the program person.
- Have a signal for your colleague to let them know when they’ve said enough on a given topic. Let them know this is
necessary because it is SO important to let the donor talk too. (I had a system with one scientist where I’d put my pen down on the table. He stopped so abruptly the first time we did it, it was like someone had punched him in the neck. We improved over time!)
- Figure out a “leave.” What’s the follow up we will offer when we close the meeting? An advance look at a pending report? A promise to send along an event invitation? Make sure it’s never just “goodbye.”
- Write a thank you for your program colleague to send from her email address (with you cc’ed) encouraging the donor to get in touch directly with any questions or comments. This creates a nice value add where you’re giving your best supporters exclusive access to the change-makers of the organization.
And don’t forget to tell your colleagues why this is so important. At the end of it all, we are looking to secure more funds for their work!
Siobhan has been fundraising for over 15 years for organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and United Way. She is currently the Senior Manager of Development at Junior Achievement working primarily in grant-writing and major gifts. She teaches fundraising courses at BCIT, consults, and is a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She holds a BA in from UBC and an Associate Certificate in Fundraising Management from BCIT. She writes for her fundraising blog at siobhanaspinall.com and surfs in Tofino. Siobhan will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.
Karen Willson, CFRE, Senior VP & Partner, KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.)
Heather Hurst, President & CEO, Humber River Hospital Foundation
Yes, this was the situation for Humber River Hospital, when the Campaign started in 2011. Heather and I have been ‘joined at the hip’ to create the winning strategy and have been continually adapting our planning as the Campaign progress.
Due to the magnitude of the new hospital initiative, the private sector goal was pre-established as $225 Million. At KCI, we are aware that Hospital Foundations are being put in the challenging position of having to strive for larger and larger goals based on project costs, rather than on their own readiness in relation to such factors as strength of their prospect base, availability of volunteers, clarity of case, etc. This intensifies the pressure between the Hospitals and their Foundations. The Hospitals require the flow of funds at certain dates, yet the Foundations’ are dependent on the ability of their volunteers to reach out to philanthropists and, the decision-making process of their donors. KCI is seeing this as a common trend in the Hospital sector (see Philanthropic Trends for more information).
Due to the strength of the Case i.e.: 1) the first hospital to be built in Ontario in 25 years; 2) the level of technology that would be incorporated to improve healthcare; and 3) the attention on the patient experience, with the support of my Foundation Board – we rose to this challenge. Karen and I knew we were working with a team of committed volunteer leaders, had secured a $10 Million lead gift and had an exciting case. The new hospital would definitely be ‘revolutionizing healthcare’ in this Province.
We created a traditional gift range chart with a lead gift of $50 Million, built our Top 100 prospect list, recruited our volunteers and marched forward with a sense of enthusiasm and optimism.
A new donor stepped up to support his physician and was so thrilled that the new hospital would be putting Humber River on the map that he joined our campaign cabinet. The Italian community is coming together with group gifts that they hope will inspire others to give. Hospital front-line staff have come forward to donate because they know they will be making a difference to patient care… in fact Environmental Services at all three sites have a 100% donation record!
Our team of Foundation staff is 20 strong. We have divided the Campaign activity into a number of pillars (Catchment Area, Downtown Core, Family Campaign, etc.) and have aligned our team members (both staff and volunteers) to these particular areas. Our goal in aligning staff in this manner is to make sure that the team not only feels a sense of accomplishment but, has fun along the way.
Advice to our colleagues in leading campaigns where a goal is pre-determined is as follows:
- Set the course of action with the Hospital Leadership and Hospital Board being actively involved
- Do not assume that the Hospital’s Leadership understands how the fundraising process works….educate, educate and educate
- Set up regular communications lines between the Hospital and Foundation. We hold quarterly meetings with the Chair of the Hospital Board, Hospital CEO and Chair of Foundation Board (with both of us)
- Be sympathetic and understanding of the pressures of Hospital leadership as they work to complete this project ‘on budget and on time’.
We are now closing in on $70 Million and have extensive call activity in the pipeline. When the doors open in October 2015, this Foundation will have taken every step to help the hospital in securing the $225 Million needed.
We will keep you posted on our progress!
As Senior Vice President at KCI, Karen Willson provides strategic direction and project supervision to her clients. This high level of professionalism and expertise was evident in her supervision of the University of Waterloo’s $260 million capital campaign, which exceeded its goal by $353 million. Karen recently worked with Habitat for Humanity Canada, and is currently providing counsel to Humber River Hospital, Women’s College Hospital, Camp Oochigeas and the Elizabeth Fry Society.
Heather Hurst has been in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. Heather is now the President and CEO of the Humber River Hospital Foundation and is responsible for the planning and execution of the $225M Capital Campaign for HRH’s new digital hospital. Prior to joining HRH in 2011, Heather was the President and CEO for 7 years at West Park Healthcare Centre and Vice-President of Development and Campaign Director at St. Michaels Hospital Foundation for over 6 years.
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.
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.
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.
by AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Ethics Committee
De-stigmatization – An Odd Lesson for Ethics
There is a lot we can learn from various de-stigmatization initiatives that have captured the public’s attention of late. Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Campaign for mental health is a shining example. Decades ago people were too ashamed to talk about depression or anxiety, and now it is commonplace to understand and appreciate that nearly one quarter of the entire workforce have a mental health struggle.
In an odd way, we need to de-stigmatize talking about ethics in fundraising and the charitable sector. People often have one of two reactions: It is either, “… our organization’s ethics are fine; it’s everyone else that has a problem,” or “… ethics? We don’t have the time or resources to worry about ethics.”
Talk About Ethics
Just like mental health, a bit of knowledge is a powerful thing. When you know what ethics actually are, the causes and symptoms of healthy (and unhealthy) ethics, and how to sustain balanced personal and organizational ethics, you have the ability to diagnose and remedy problems. Better yet, you are able to create and sustain operational excellence, increase and deepen your relationships, and be a leader for your donors and volunteers, who deserve your utmost respect.
The first place to start is to talk about ethics – to put ethics on your personal and organizational radar. One of the best places to begin is to acknowledge what you know and just as importantly what you don’t know. Ethics relates to governance matters such as a board’s fiscal responsibilities or care of duty for staff. Strategically, ethics relates to fundamental fundraising practices such as the integrity of your case for support. Ethics on an operational level can be about the information you use and share when it comes to determining a potential donor’s ability to give. Personally, ethics can even be about the level of information you share about a donor with whom you have worked during a job interview, and if you promise to “deliver” said donor to demonstrate your fundraising prowess.
At its core, ethics is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand where they are coming from – good, bad or indifferent. It is through the sharing of each other’s stories that we discover solutions to differences in values and ethical conundrums. Again, the key is to talk, to engage, and to do what’s right – together.
Share Your Story, and Help Build the Ethics Library
To that end, the Ethics Resources Committee of Greater Toronto is promoting AFP’s growing library of ethics case studies. These are reality-based overviews of ethical situations that executives in the charitable sector have faced and managed successfully. They are fascinating. The case studies are also excellent learning tools and are available for download.
The Committee has created a new case study template to chronicle new examples of challenging ethical situations. We invite you to share one of your stories anonymously so that others can learn and continue to understand best practices, and apply them as the highest level fundraising practitioner. When you talk and share, you and your organization succeed. Best of all, donors and volunteers will be moved to give and continue giving because they know at a fundamental level they can trust.
Please fill out the case study submission form to either suggest a new case study not already covered, or to submit your own case study example.
It’s a Big Deal
Chances are that whatever ethics challenge or success you have faced or are facing, someone else is in the exact same boat. One story at a time, we give staff and volunteer leaders the ability to make their charity and fundraising everything they can be.
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 of 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 Founder 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