Fundraising with Joy Interview Series – Anne Hilton

Anne Hilton, Associate Director of Development, Rotman School of Management,
University of Toronto

Anne and I worked together for four years at KCI, Ketchum Canada. She is a fundraiser who truly loves working with donors because her passion is connecting with people. She is highly motivated and rewarded by building great relationships. I also know that helping people make a difference in their lives is important to Anne. In her position, Anne is raising money that supports great education. What stands out for me is her ability to create deep and meaningful conversations that support donors in articulating and implementing their philanthropic vision. Anne also likes to have fun at work and that is something I really love.

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

Anne: When I was in university, I studied physical geography and environmental science. Though I loved that program, I knew that a career which required me to own hip-waders was not the right fit. I wanted to work with people and have a job where relationship building would be of paramount importance. I decided to pursue fundraising or PR and just happened to land a fundraising job first – and the rest is history.

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

Anne: I try to think of philanthropy in the broadest sense – doing good work, whether that is volunteering your time or donating your money. To me, philanthropy should be about impact. I think it’s unfair to say that a corporation that makes an investment in a non-profit organization and receives some kind of exposure for their brand in recognition of their investment isn’t being philanthropic. That kind of arrangement may not technically be charitable but in my mind, it is philanthropic because that investment will have an impact, however large or small, on the organization and the people it serves.

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

Anne: There are lots of things that bring me joy in my work but I think my two favourite things are successfully matching donors with the right project for them and watching them see the impact of their gift first hand. At Rotman, one of the best parts of my job is participating in scholarship selection meetings where donors who have funded scholarships interview and assist in the selection of the recipients of their awards. It is very rewarding to see the donors meet the students and hear first-hand about the tremendous impact their gift has had.

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

Anne: My relationships in my life are what fuels me. I really love spending time with my friends and family (and my dog). My husband and I love to travel and we also love spending time at my family’s cottage. I adore my three nephews and spend as much time with them as I can. I will also confess to a semi-serious addiction to reality tv competition shows (particularly ones involving cooking, dancing or any part of the Bachelor franchise – judge if you must). I know it’s wrong but I really do find them incredibly relaxing (perhaps it’s because so many of my brain cells are dying as I watch…).

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

Anne: I think that is absolutely true. My husband and I make financial contributions to a few organizations that we believe strongly in and we have both sat on several Boards. I am in the market for a new volunteer opportunity at the moment but haven’t found quite the right fit yet – it’s important for me that my volunteer work feels different from what I do at work but it’s my work-related skills that make me a desirable volunteer, so finding the right fit/balance can be hard.

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?

Anne: That is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. I want to be thought of as a fundraiser who puts the needs and interests of the donor first and if I can instill that way of thinking in the people I work with throughout my career, I think that would have a lasting impact. I think most of us spend a lot of time trying to put a square peg into a round hole and in the end that is not in anyone’s best interest. It’s not about us as fundraisers or the organizations we serve – ultimately, it’s about the donor and their decision to make the right investment to the right organization at the right time.

© 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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