Fundraising with Joy Interview Series – Heather Jewell

Heather Jewell, Development Office, Meal Exchange

Heather headshotI met Heather last November during the AFP Congress in Toronto. I was struck by her passion for food security. I must admit that I really didn’t even know what food security meant or encompassed, but I did feel like I wanted to spend time learning about it from Heather. I see Heather as a wonderful example of someone who is working in the world of fundraising because it aligns so deeply with her personal interests and desire to create a change in our world. Heather’s Twitter profile states she is “learning how to make a difference.” Think of the difference we can make if we all focus on that lesson each day.

Follow Heather on Twitter @heather_jewell

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

Heather: When I was in high school, I spent 3 months living and working in rural Ecuador. I’ve never been able to elaborate on it, but I came back changed, with the desire to make the world a better place (but not quite sure how to do so).

During university, I worked at a local market/café that focussed on local food. I remember my first bite of an Alberta field strawberry, wondering how anyone could ever eat Californian strawberries during the winter. They paled in comparison. After that, I started learning about food security, and realized that what people ate and had access to was important to me. From how it was sourced, to how they cooked it, and the community aspect of it.

After graduation, I worked for a while doing odd jobs (receptionist and receiver) and quickly came to discover I had to work somewhere that made a positive change in the world. I decided that the path to making that change, while being involved in food security, was to go back to school (Humber’s Fundraising and Volunteer Management program).

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

Heather: I guess my definition of philanthropy has changed over time. When I was younger, I always associated the word with major donors – people who get honoured at galas, or who have things named after them. Now I understand that really, it’s not about size. It’s about giving of yourself to improve the lives of others, I think.

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

Heather: Seeing the results. Last summer, just 1.5 months after I started with Meal Exchange, we ran our National Student Food Summit. About 45 students attended and I was blown away by their enthusiasm, their ideas, and their genuine desire to be a part of and change their food system. Meal Exchange helps connect students, and support them, and most programming doesn’t happen at the National Office, or even in Toronto, so it was great to see the results first hand.

And clean/usable data – it’s so satisfying.

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

Heather: It’s funny, this past Christmas I finally did the StrengthsFinder assessment, and one of my key strengths was “Relator” which means I’m someone who “enjoy[s] close relationships with others.” It’s so true, and most of my recharging comes from being with those I’m closest to. It could be a standing dinner date with my fundraising friends, tea after work with a best friend, or sitting on the couch watching TV with my partner. Being around them simply relaxes me, and usually allows me to see sources of trouble/tension in a new light. Daily, I recharge by cooking dinner. Chopping veggies and stirring a pot are very calming actions for me.

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

Heather: Yes, I get to meet new people, who I may not have ever crossed paths with. I get to learn new skills, or brush up on old ones. I get to work in new places. I also get to share what I know, and help people have their own new experiences. I think, in general, volunteering can be such a worthwhile and positive experience, it’s no surprise it increases happiness.

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?

Heather: In general, I hope because of funds I raised fewer people are going hungry, more people are thinking about the food they eat, and more people are cooking meals regularly. I hope that I leave organizations with a more organized fundraising department, so we can spend more time on planning and communication, and less time on filing (or looking for a file).

© 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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