Fundraising with Joy Interview – Lori Hood Lawson

Lori Hood Lawson, Co-founder & CEO, WorkingPhilanthropy.com

Lori HeadshotI originally ‘met’ Lori on Twitter and then the first time we met in real life, she was live tweeting from a presentation I was giving. This is a perfect illustration of Lori – who is always engaged and connected. As co-founder and CEO of WorkingPhilanthropy.com, her passion is helping to keep the non-profit sector current in the latest issues and trends. As Lori explains, she uses her development research skills to “help organizations turn data into actionable fundraising intelligence.” Lori takes her passion, skill, and entrepreneurial spirit and channels it to help non-profit organizations use data to support and advance their mission.

To learn more about Lori, visit http://www.workingphilanthropy.com/ or connect on Twitter @WorkingLori

Janice: What made you choose a career in the social profit sector?
I really feel it chose me! Growing up, you simply helped other people. Growing up with that sense of charity instilled in me the “do good with your life” mantra. My kids have asked me how I knew I wanted to do what I do now. I told them, well, I always enjoyed helping other people, and I love information and data and learning new things every day, so this was the most natural fit for me, to put knowledge to work for good.

Janice: What does philanthropy mean to you? Has your definition changed over time?
Philanthropy technically means “love of humanity,” and to me philanthropy means helping others, whether it’s sharing expertise, donating money, promoting someone’s cause through social media or volunteering time. Over time my philanthropy definition has changed to include the benefits of helping oneself while helping others. There are numerous studies which show the mutually beneficial value of philanthropy. And it’s true – the “giving high” one receives from doing something selfless is like no other! So, one might think it’s not selfless if it makes one feel good, right? The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) conducted a study which showed giving could improve your health. (http://noetic.org/blog/how-giving-improves-your-health-and-heals/) I believe it can also improve your mental health and well being. We are all fortunate there are mega philanthropists, but we can all benefit from giving, no matter how small our contribution may seem in comparison. I believe it was Mohammed Ali who said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth.” Philanthropy is paying your rent!

Janice: How does your organization’s mission connect to your personal values?
Our tagline for WorkingPhilanthropy.com is “Helping Good Do Great,” and at the end of the work day, I do reflect for a few moments to make sure I executed on that tagline. My personal values include forming lasting relationships with good people who are truly dedicated to and passionate about their life’s pursuits. In my professional life, that’s where I can really add the most value – in working with good people who have a mutual appreciation and respect for each other’s work to bring the organization closer to meeting its mission. I have been fortunate in being able to put this mantra at front and center in my relationships with my clients. And I think it really pays off for all sides of the work relationship.

Janice: What brings you the most joy in your work?
I confess. I am THAT data geek. I love the power of information and strategic use of such. So, when I find that piece of information which can connect the philanthropic interests of a prospective donor with an organization’s mission – yes, I do a happy dance! But it really comes back around to philanthropy – and helping others. When my children were young, and they would ask the question, for the 1,000th time, “Mommy, what do you do?” I would always say, “Mommy helps other people help other people, animals, and the world.” The kids are getting older now, but that is still what I do.

Janice: Your job focuses on cultivating relationships and supporting others, what do you do to recharge your batteries?
RUN! Yes, while I’m not a triathlete by any stretch of the imagination, I do get out and run and walk in my neighborhood. My husband David and I try to fit in a run even when we travel for work-related reasons. We’ve enjoyed seeing cities in this different way, instead of just the conference hotel treadmill. Additionally, I run with an app on my phone, called Charity Miles, which works with your GPS and corporations to donate to your selected charity a certain amount per mile logged. You can also use it for cycling. So, yes, I continue my philanthropy even when I’m recharging my batteries.

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 a variety of clients, organizations focused on animals, environment-related causes, education reform, education – all of these organizations have missions which attracted me, and appealed to my own values and beliefs. I am happy every day working with my clients – they are good people with great missions. It’s wonderful I get to do what I love for organizations with fascinating missions!

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?
This is a really interesting question. People who know me well know I often say, “Hey, see that building? I found the person who made that happen!” But it’s not the building that is the impact – it’s what was learned within that building, the relationships formed, how those students went on to do something great. The gifts received by my clients which were a result of strategy I provided to them – those gifts have a lasting impact for generations to come – for the environment, for education, for the protection of animals. I believe the lasting impact made during my career happens every day. My work each day is impactful, and for that I am truly blessed.

© 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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