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 Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Networking, Next Generation Philanthropy, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Colin Hennigar, Associate Director, SickKids Foundation 

How do you engage a group of young professional major gift donors? Listen to them.

Fundraisers are frequently challenged to grow their pipeline to secure major gifts, often with the expectation of a donation to be confirmed over a year or two. But what happens when you invest in laying the seeds of philanthropy in the next generation? Results.

When we asked what is important for young professionals who make a donation, over and above purchasing an event ticket, we directly heard that they want a tangible impact, exclusivity, and networking opportunities. Solicitations for unrestricted funds don’t often appeal to this group – they want to know how their donation will make an impact. They want to meet the experts who will use their donation. They also want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to look around the room and see like-minded philanthropists who are all at the same stage in life and have rallied together to make a difference. They want to share their involvement with their peers and get them engaged as well. We see this in donors who come together to build a house or school or participate in a team fundraising event, but now we’re starting to see it in major gifts programs.

What we’re doing at SickKids Foundation is challenging young professionals to think big – to make an investment through a program that will see them surrounded by their peers, that will give them access to the organization’s leadership, and that will allow them to make a collective impact. The result of listening to this demographic is SickKids Innovators which saw 20 individuals invest $100,000 in an underfunded priority of the hospital last year.

Access to the hospital’s leadership and exclusive experiences isn’t free. In terms of stewarding this group of young professional donors, we do have to bend the rules or adapt the conventional donor matrix to develop meaningful events and opportunities. What we have to keep in mind is that we listen to what will engage this group. As they progress in their careers, with the philanthropic seeds planted, their involvement can expand to additional gifts through cause marketing campaigns or third party events enhancing their commitment to the organization.

Today, fundraisers need to adapt our traditional ways of engaging donors, especially as we work with groups of like-minded philanthropists, such as young professionals. What we need to do is listen, create, engage and then wait patiently for the results, if not today, then definitely tomorrow.

Colin Hennigar is an Associate Director on the Major Gifts Team at SickKids Foundation. Prior to joining SickKids Foundation in 2010, Colin held a number of roles at the Royal Ontario Museum Governors Office. Colin graduated from the University of Toronto with a Double Major in Fine Art History and Classical Civilizations and a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. He will be speaking at Fundraising Day 2014 on May 28th in Toronto. You can follow Colin on Twitter @travellercolin 

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

Paul Nazareth, Philanthropic Advisor
Scotia Private Client Group 

solar-system-orbits

Me personally, I make it point to observe the careers of business people I admire.I study people who have achieved what I value in life – and I then I ask them for advice on how they did it. Often the more brilliant ones have confessed to me that although their career looks like a straight line it was more like a squiggle and when it came to mentors they didn’t have just one, but many. What does a multi-mentoring universe look like?

Let’s explore…

Just above the atmosphere are your digital teachers.  With today’s interconnected world of Twitter and LinkedIn, like satellites they are transmitting educational articles daily. World leaders, great CEOs, authors, journalists and great fundraisers from the around the globe are now serving as social mentors more often.

Mentors are all around you, it doesn’t need to be a formal mentoring relationship. Like that person at work whose advice and guidance you value, good mentors are people who add value. In this orbit too are the formal mentoring programs like through AFP, other professional associations, your alumni programs and local community organizations.

Further out are the big planets. The leaders you have access to but see less frequently, you need a couple of these experienced people. Deep thinkers with lots of experience. Maybe you only see them twice a year but they will help guide your way in critical decisions of career and ethics. Here’s a great read on how to find mentors like these.

Remember too that you need to be in the orbits of others – let me confess it’s not about ‘giving back’. Younger professionals, or mentoring people outside your professional network bring big value. New ideas, new skills (like coaching on things like technology and social media), new contacts. You have a lot to give but what you get back is of serious career value too. Don’t just be nice, consider the give and take to make it an equal partnership of learning.

Key traits of these successful people I observe though, is that they reach out to mentors outside their field of work and manage these relationships carefully. A great phrase I once heard was, we need to create a personal board of directors. Want to get recruit more board members of your own? Consider using the new web platform Ten Thousand Coffees or ask for referrals from your current mentors.

It need not be a lot of effort. An excel spreadsheet, using LinkedIn’s new contact management software or just your calendar – but be sure to schedule it and prepare for the meeting. Here are some more mentoring resources and articles to help you as you build your mentoring relationships and network.

Remember there is NEVER a good time or enough time to find and spend time with mentors. Come out to events held by AFP Greater Toronto Chapter to meet and spend time with yours!

PN2013Paul Nazareth is a former charity fundraiser turned philanthropic advisor with Scotia Private Client Group. Networking as an AFP member has had a big impact on his career and he is obsessed about helping peers do better and live better through connecting with each other. Find him on the web or follow him on Twitter at @UinvitedU. Connect with Paul and other mentors at AFP Greater Toronto Chapter’s April 29th Mentor Meet ‘n Greet Event.

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

Paul Nazareth, Philanthropic Advisory Services, Scotia Private Client Group

Conferences are one of the most powerful ways to learn, grow a peer support network and grow professionally.

How can you take full advantage of your time and organization’s funds invested to send you? Here are some tips we hope you find useful:

1. Know thyself. My favourite authors call conferences the “Olympics of networking“. Extroverts thrive but what if you’re not one? How do you keep your energy up and survive these crazy few days? Here’s a great read for the thinking-class “introverts” who dread these noisy, busy affairs. Don’t focus on the formal program, go off the beaten path. An example of this the great networking dinners being hosted at AFP Congress in Toronto this year. Going ‘off site’ is a way to have deeper conversations with peers one on one, seasoned conference veterans know this is the best way to establish lasting professional connections.

2. Bring lots of business cards! Yes, cards are still importing with networking, even in a digital world. Write down what you spoke about with that person to follow up and if you ask them to send you something – write it down for them on your card. Here’s a great read on business card etiquette. Read more »