Fundraising with Joy Interview Series – Paul Nazareth

Paul Nazareth, Philanthropic Advisory Services with Scotia Private Client Group and
Faculty member, Planned Giving, Georgian College Postgraduate Fundraising Program

Paul Nazareth

Paul Nazareth

It is hard to summarize Paul in a paragraph. He describes himself as a “Philanthropic Advisor. Networking Enthusiast. Social Business Evangelist.” His work allows him to empower people to have greater social impact through his career specialty – planned giving. His personal mission is to “promote people with clarity of purpose and passion to help them reach professional and personal potential while enjoying life to the fullest.” Countless fundraisers have benefited from his time and advice. His Twitter handle @UinvitedU summarizes his desire to help people who invite themselves to success – he calls them forth. So there are many facets to Paul, but what I find most inspiring is how he creates space in his life for reflection. Paul has a strong vision for his life and he consciously chooses to say yes to people and experiences that support this. By living a life informed by many mentors and an intentional personal vision, Paul is able to help donors and fundraisers do the same.

Learn more about Paul at

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

Like so many fundraisers, I fell into it. Actually, I was pushed! As a University student I had lost my dream to be a high school English teacher after job shadowing made it clear it wasn’t my path. Like so many Canadians I grew up volunteering and found a skill set in community fundraising. At University I was involved in a number of campaigns, one that involved the phone had me raise as much as all 30 other volunteers combined. In three years I was a volunteer leading that campaign for the whole University with a goal of over $250,000. My staff liason, a fundraiser said “you should do this for a living!” and went on right then and we found my first job.

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

Philanthropy is a high-fallutin word for giving. And I enjoy the purity of helping Canadians circulate goodwill, the core of giving. Fundraising on the other hand is my profession and it’s a tough business. For me it’s about skill development, strategy, constant education and networking to be the best. Earlier in my career I let my employer and “associations” be my guide, and they were great but in time they were structures that held me back. My fault, not theirs. A few years ago a new set of mentors, mostly entrepreneurs, set me free and showed me a whole new world of career and personal development possibility. This growth also led me to change gears from traditional fundraising to moving to a for-profit philanthropic program in a bank. Philanthropy now means a whole different thing to me, it is part of a toolkit of solutions in the financial and estate planning process. It’s a whole new ecosystem to discover and I’m having the time of my life.

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

My organization is a Trust Company inside a bank! Not your typical fundraising job, what is beautiful is that the mission of our philanthropic program was elegantly designed by a mentor of mine, another fundraiser turned advisor. That mission was about being motivated by the donor’s pure giving goals. Being cause-neutral is an indulgence few fundraisers beyond the world of Community Foundations get to experience. I get to connect with donors every day around my own values – the love of community, education, spirituality, animals. Every day is an adventure because I get to research and create solutions for philanthropic dreams. Want to empower innovation in immigrant employment? There’s a tiny community centre that does that. Tree planting, science exploration, donkey sanctuaries, sailing around the world. The list goes on and on, there are 88,000 charities in Canada!

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

Taking a donor from a place where they are enthusiastic about giving to charity, to a place where they are inspired by their own vision. Where they distill and then expand what they want to do today and as a legacy for the future. Then to make that a reality, and with the access of a financial institution the people who I help have the financial capacity to change the world. There are days that when I leave a meeting where we discussed a plan that is in the millions of dollars, to change the world in a grassroots and humble way, my hands are shake with adrenaline – my heart pounds with the realization of what we just did.

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

One of the reasons I said yes to leaving what was already my dream job in fundraising (for my faith community) was because this employer already knew about my professional non-work passions. Business networking, skill-building around the science of human connection, exploring the future of social business. Although this job has me spending more time at a desk creating solutions, supporting hundreds of staff and partners, outside the office I get to speak and host my own events to further these passions. Also, because it allows me to be a better fundraiser (we learn better from teaching), I teach a course on fundraising (planned giving being my career specialty) online on weekends and I’ve reached a career goal to teach with my favourite professional association, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. Doing all this expression off the job, gives me energy to get back to work and focus on highly technical planning and the need to shut-up and be quiet to deeply and actively listen to clients and partners. Lastly, I have a new baby, a 5 year old, a dog, cat and wonderful wife – managing my schedule aggressively (yaay Blackberry!) means I spend more time with them now than ever. They are my reason for being, a joy beyond expectation.

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 experienced this through my donors and clients, helping them to volunteer smarter ( aligning with their strengths instead of just saying yes to whatever comes their way ) and give more strategically through planned giving ( happiness comes from giving more by planning, but having more for loved ones because of tax benefits ). As for MY work and life? Janice, it was the exact opposite for a long time. Let’s be honest, fundraising is a hard profession because there is very little encouragement of management training, strategy at work, boards expect too much from fundraisers and many leaders are dysfunctional. The turnover isn’t high because fundraisers are a flighty bunch, working 60 hours a week for a salary equal to Starbucks after years of experience is disheartening. Mid-career I gave myself permission to take a leadership role in a charity, running a homeless food program from my Church. It was a selfish act, I don’t like when people pretend voluntourism is magnanimous – it’s not, it’s a selfish act of personal discovery and growth, be honest about it. Cooking with my hands, learning from an army of talented grandmothers, teaching hundreds of youth about poverty and feeding thousands each year was so satisfying and healing for my work burnout. Later on, I participated for a year in a dynamic program called Timeraiser ( and had another amazing non-fundraising volunteer experience.

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?

I am not someone motivated by high-minded ideals, I’m an operationally focused kind of guy. I want to leave a career legacy of better operations in fundraising, to raise the bar on strategy and management excellence. To have helped peers to find the right fit in jobs and organizations (which is why I’m well known as a connector and informal recruiter via Linkedin ) to create better fundraising teams. I have negative legacy goals too! I want to help bad leaders find better jobs outside charities, I want to end the tyranny of golf-tournaments and gala dinners in fundraising and I want to like the famous Dan Pallotta create a new value system and evaluation system of what “charity” is and how it works. As a professional I network ruthlessly, daily, to create and army of the passionate and together, before we die, we will make change for fundraisers and to fundraising. We will change it for the better. I even created a personal award to recognize the best in my network who help me achieve these goals.

© 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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