Fundraising with Joy Interview – Jo-Anne Nykilchyk, CFRE

Jo-Anne Nykilchyk, CFRE, Associate Vice President, KCI

Jo-Anne headshotJo-Anne has been with KCI for coming up on 18 years. I was lucky enough to work closely with her during my 10 years at the firm. The research team at KCI turned to Jo-Anne often. We valued her generosity in sharing insight, giving feedback, or helping us brainstorm new ideas. The phrase “let’s ask Jo-Anne” was uttered more times than I can remember. And when I reached about this project the response, as always, was yes.

The other trait I admire in Jo-Anne is her sense of adventure. She has led major campaigns in the post-secondary education and health care sectors and literally criss-crossed the country from West to East. It was fun to watch her pack up her belongings and excitedly embarked on a new campaign in a new province. Her impact on the social profit sector continues to be far-reaching.

Janice: What made you choose a career in the social profit sector?

When I was in high school I saw a poster saying “if you want to change the world, come to the University of Waterloo.” That planted a seed inside me. After I graduated as an arts student it was tough to get a job. I had a degree in political science and was applying for lots of jobs in the government sector. By chance, a woman passed on a copy of my resume to her husband who worked at the Nature Conservancy. That is where I started my career and it just kept growing from there. During the four years I worked there, I was introduced to fundraising. Then someone I knew became a consultant and convinced me to apply for a position which led me down that path.

Janice: What does philanthropy mean to you? Has your definition changed over time?

To me philanthropy is about doing good and making positive changes for the community. This could be by making a gift of cash or giving a gift of time. As I work with true philanthropists that inspires me to do more as well. I have been fortunate to meet people who have the attitude that they have enough and they want to give away their excess wealth to make a difference. It is a privilege to help these people make transformational gifts to create change especially when they are doing so for the first time.

Janice: How does your organization’s mission connect to your personal values?

The simplest thing is that my personal mission and values are aligned with KCI’s | We inspire and enable organizations to raise money, to make the dream of better communities and improved lives a reality. I was a part of the process to identify and create this vision and it really resonates with me. It is important to help clients and volunteers to see what everyone working together can do – the power of one multiplied.

Janice: What brings you the most joy in your work?

There are several things I love about working as a consultant.

I love working with volunteers and staff and helping them to make their community a better place. I am inspired by the passion and commitment that they have invested in their cause.

I also love getting to use a variety of skills every day – creating strategies, motivating staff and volunteers, problem solving, event planning, writing, communicating, creativity and helping to distinguish each organization. It is never the same. Additionally I have had the opportunity to travel to across the country, to live in different communities and to truly see how unique each one really is.

Janice: Your job focuses on cultivating relationships and supporting others, what do you do to recharge your batteries?

I spend time in my hometown of Vancouver where I have no computer or TV. I stop and turn off all communications and spend time with friends. I also get a lot of joy out of spending time with family, including my nieces and nephews and grandchildren (one of whom is pictured here).

Janice: Research shows that philanthropy and volunteerism are proven ways to increase happiness. How have you experienced this in your work and life?

I have been really fortunate in falling into this career because it does bring great joy. Seeing an organization reach its goal and get to do its important work brings tremendous satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. As does working with the staff and volunteers to reach these goals.

When I returned to Kitchener three years ago, I got to visit the emergency room as a patient and experience the results of the work that I had been part of. It was a small thing but had a huge impact on me, “I helped to make this such a great new Emergency Department”. Because I usually move on after a campaign it was nice to have the experience of going back and seeing firsthand the benefit.

At the University of Waterloo, my alma mater, I was giving during my time working there as a consultant. It reconnected with my experience as a student and reminded me of a bursary I received to help me to get through to the end of the year. I realized I wanted to give money so that students in the Faculty of Arts from Northern Ontario could have a fund in case they needed or wanted to get home (due to emergencies, home sickness etc.). The University was trying to promote mental health issues for students and we decided to flow the money through this area allowing me to create something unique. I was able to direct the money to an area that I was passionate about.

Janice: Our work in the social profit sector allows us to make a contribution. What is the lasting impact you want to make during your career?

The compliment I have received that is meaningful to me is when someone says “I learned a lot from you.” If I help people to enhance their fundraising skills and build their confidence doing it, they will have a bigger impact in their communities. I get joy from the teaching side. Sharing my knowledge and helping others grow is a part of the consulting role I really enjoy. Teaching and enhancing the skills of others broadens the ripple effect of doing more good.

© 2013, Janice Cunning. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this posting if you include my contact information. Please contact me if you wish to reprint any portion of it in any periodical or on a website

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About Janice Cunning

As a certified coach and fundraiser, I am passionate about partnering with people and teams to increase their personal and professional Joy Quota.

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