Fundraising with Joy Interview Series

The Fundraising with Joy Interview Series was a year-long project I undertook. It was a joyful experience for me to connect with fundraisers who are living their values and pursuing their work with passion. My hope is you will read these stories and find inspiration that you can apply to your own work.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Brock Warner

Brock Warner, Donor Programs Officer, War Child Canada

BWheadshot_Feb2013Brock’s passion for philanthropy and its ability to be a “catalyst for positive change” are clear to anyone who meets him or reads his blog. I love how Brock is dedicating his career to championing the value of the act of philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As he explains, he values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much.’ His commitment to our sector extends into volunteer roles and recently he served as Co-Chair of the 2013 AFP Congress Marketing Committee for AFP Toronto. Brock chose a career in fundraising rather than pursuing teaching. But there is still a teacher inside him and the social profit sector benefits from his passion for sharing his expertise with others.

Connect with Brock on Twitter @BrockWarner or through his blog.

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

I certainly have my Aunt Wendy to thank for this. She is the Executive Director at the Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation, and she gave me a part-time summer job at the Foundation while I was still in university. I learned quite quickly how fulfilling a career in fundraising can be. A hospital fundraising position was certainly conducive to that – walking in the front door past the donor walls, passing donor-funded equipment, and interacting with volunteers. I had been considering a career in teaching up until that summer, and decided to make a change.

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

For me, philanthropy is an investment in change – and fundamentally that hasn’t changed in my eyes over time. I believe that all gifts are fundamentally similar in this way. What I’ve come to learn in the last few years of fundraising is that I am most fulfilled in trying help as many people who are interested, able and willing to invest in change to do so.

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

War Child’s mission is to protect childhood in areas of the world where children are bearing the brunt of brutal, violent conflict. As a father, I certainly can’t look at pictures of the children in our programs and not see a bit of my daughter in the young faces. Similarly, I can’t help but be shaken to the core by stories of mothers and fathers that have lost children to armed conflict. It’s heavy to work with this each day, but it’s certainly offset by the generosity of donors that want to help War Child to create change.

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

Donors! I love donors. I’m never hesitant to pick up the phone, send a letter or a quick email to a donor because I know that while we may have never met – they and I share a bond through this charity that we both believe in.

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

I walk about 30 minutes to work and I pass the time listening to podcasts. Hearing others talk about what they are passionate about can often spur on some fresh ideas before I get to work. I try to listen to pods that aren’t too serious. Nowadays I’m enjoying Nerdist, JRE, the Jay & Dan Podcast, Harmontown.

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

Yes and no. I know how addictive philanthropy and volunteerism can be when it is done right, but I also know firsthand how draining it can be when your needs and interests aren’t being met. They are a two-way street, and it’s important to be up front about what you hope to gain from the experience, and to know when to walk away.

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?

Building a relationship with a charity and experiencing firsthand what it means to feel engaged and invested in a cause can be a very transformative experience. It takes time, effort and at least a little money. I would feel pretty good knowing I may have helped a handful of people experience that.

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.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Maeve Strathy

Maeve Strathy, Alumni Development Officer, Trinity College School and Founder, What Gives Philanthropy

Maeve headshotIn May of this year, I attended the first “Midtown Toronto Fundraisers Social” – now #maevesmeetup. Maeve created this event to connect the many fundraisers in midtown Toronto. Luckily for me (a downtowner), she made the event open to all and #maevesmeetup has quickly become a “must attend” event for those who are passionate about fundraising and the social profit sector. And a really fun night out.

Since 2010 Maeve has been the Alumni Development Officer at Trinity College School, where she engages the grads of the last decade (GOLD) and manages their Annual Giving (including the 5 & 10-year reunion classes), among other things. She is inspiring a new generation of donors.

She is also part of a new generation of fundraisers making their mark in the sector. She is the founder of What Gives??? A blog dedicated to philanthropy & fundraising. Through What Gives Philanthropy, Maeve volunteers as a consultant for emerging companies and organizations requiring help with fundraising efforts. She has stated that “on a grander, long-term (15-20 years) scale” What Gives Philanthropy will evolve into “an arena for consulting, idea-sharing, and discussion.” Somehow I doubt that we will have to wait that long to see Maeve bring this dream into reality. In just a few years she has already become an inspiration to so many.

To connect with Maeve visit her blog at

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

It all started with a need for extra cash as a university undergrad… a situation I imagine we’ve all been in. I took a friend’s advice and applied to work at the Annual Giving call centre at the university, calling alumni of the school and parents of current students to share campus updates and – of course – ask for their financial support of the school. It was a great job, a fun environment to work in, and it turned out I was pretty good at it, too. I ended up working there for 3 ½ years, first as a caller, and then as a student supervisor. As corny as it may sound, I fell in love with fundraising. I was very passionate about my (now) alma mater, but it was the psychology, the language, the process, and everything else that went along with it that made me love the work. So, like many others, I fell into fundraising, but it was clear to me pretty quickly that this is the field for me.

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

I use this phrase a lot in my blog because it resonates so intensely with me. I once heard James Fleck – the well-known Canadian philanthropist – say that philanthropy is the alignment of a person’s resources with their passion. That’s what philanthropy means to me. At the heart of it, it’s about passion; passion for people, passion for an organization’s mission, passion for a cause, an issue, etc. When someone’s so passionate about something that they’re willing to part with their hard-earned money? That’s a beautiful thing. And my definition has changed over time and I’m sure it will continue to, because as I continue on in my career it becomes loaded with experiences and examples of philanthropy. It begins to mean a lot more than just the Greek word for the love of humankind.

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

I work at an independent school, grades 5-12, that is nearing its 150th anniversary. My father went to the school, as well as my sister, cousin, and other more distant relatives, and the school is in the town that my grandfather lived in for the later years of his life. It’s rich in personal history for me, which makes it very appealing. But beyond that, I really believe in education. Some people may question the needs of a primarily tuition-funded school compared to other charities. But at the end of the day, the world’s biggest problems will be solved by educated people, and so I think on that level, that it’s a great organization to be a part of. Beyond that, the actual mission of the school I work at is Developing habits of the heart and mind for a life of purpose and service. So as a fundraiser, I’m helping to support an institution that wants to mould young minds so that they can live purposeful lives in service to others. I think purpose is what we all really need for ourselves and service is what we can share with others, and so I definitely support that mission.

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

Connecting with people. That’s the #1 thing. I’m an introverted person, in that I gain energy from time spent alone or with just a few people, and I love that my work involves a lot of quiet time at my desk, writing solicitation letters or customizing major gift proposals for prospects. However, variety is the spice of life, and that’s why I love my job. For all my time spent quietly working, there’s just as much time spent meeting alumni of the school, or parents of current or past students; people who continue to stay connected with the institution because it has made a positive impact on their lives, directly or indirectly. Speaking with these people and hearing their stories not only makes me proud to work for the school, but it also enhances my ability to seek support for the school. These people are what make the work worth doing.

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

As I said before, I’m an introvert, and as much as I love connecting with people, it definitely takes a lot of energy from me. I recharge through my quiet work when I have the opportunities to do it; I recharge from time spent at home with my partner and our cat, reading, relaxing, and cooking; I recharge at the gym; I recharge by maintaining close and wonderful relationships with family and friends; and I recharge connecting with new people outside of work. In May I held my first “Midtown Toronto Fundraisers Social”, now called “#maevesmeetup”. This idea came out of a conversation I had with Paul Nazareth where he encouraged me to connect together the many fundraisers who live and/or work in midtown Toronto. These meet-ups (the third was on October 10th) have been great opportunities for inspiration, connection, networking, and more! Meeting people who are as passionate about fundraising and the social profit sector as I am has been totally rejuvenating.

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

In so many ways! I make an effort to volunteer when I can with different organizations including professional organizations like AFP and CCAE, and I find that involvement and volunteerism makes me that much more excited to do my own work. You meet people who work for the good of society and the people in it, and it’s totally inspiring! Furthermore, I’ve developed so many skills for my career through my volunteerism that I otherwise wouldn’t have at this stage, and so it’s really wonderful in that way, too.

In regards to philanthropy, I certainly support causes on my own – mostly art organizations or educational institutions – and I get a lot out of that, too. No one knows better than a fundraiser how far those dollars can go, and so it’s a great thing to know that I’m making an impact.

Finally, outside of my own philanthropy, I am witness to so many philanthropists; people who put their money behind the causes they’re passionate about. I’ve never met a philanthropist who wasn’t a positive person, or who didn’t seem to have a lot of love and happiness in their life. I think there’s a good reason for that.

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?

That is a great question! At this stage in my career, I think an impact I want to make is on young potential donors. Too many people I know have an idea of philanthropy as only being an option for Warren Buffet and Bill Gates; grey or white-haired, extremely wealthy men. I want to change that perception, and show people that we can all make a difference simply because we’re giving. It doesn’t matter how much, it just matters that we participate. It matters that we plant the seed for a culture of philanthropy, and inspire a new generation of donors to give. I want to be part of that.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Jeff Walker

Jeffrey A. Walker, PhD | Director of Research, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) Development & Alumni Relations

Jeff headshotTo me Jeff is a storyteller with an imagination and sense of humour that is out of this world. We first connected through APRA International. He was (and now continues to be) part of the Editorial Advisory Committee for APRA’s journal Connections. He also wrote a futurist column called “One Foot in the Future.” I can’t think of a better person for that job (and not only because of his love of Star Trek). It seems fitting that Connections is what brought us together because I always think of Jeff as writer / fundraiser.

In fact, it was after nearly a decade of college English teaching that Jeff started his career as a philanthropy researcher / writer in 1998. He has been Director of Research at UWM since January 2011 and had previously been an Assistant Director of Research there (1999-2002). He held similar positions at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation (2003-2011) and Lawrence University (1998-1999).

When I began this series of interviews I hoped to have his voice included. I knew he would be delightfully provocative. His definition of philanthropy as “concentric circles of stories” resonates because I love how prospect research is the chance to tell someone’s life story. Enjoy reading and pondering Jeff’s words. I bet it will leave you in anticipation for the future stories he will tell.

Connect with Jeff at Linkedin or on Facebook.

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

I wish I could describe how this fit into some grand, super-strategic career plan, but – in fact – I just stumbled in. Toward the end of my undergraduate years and throughout grad school, I envisioned becoming a professor. But the job market for newly minted humanities PhDs was abysmal when I finished my doctorate in English/Modern Studies. I lingered in the academy for about three years, as an adjunct instructor, mainly teaching required sections of Introductory Composition. In some ways, it was a wonderful experience: I loved working with students who were eager to learn, and who responded to intellectual challenge. But the course load and compensation were awful; gradually, I realized that path offered no long-term future and, in the near term, little genuine professional growth. With something akin to grief, I started to accept the idea that that particular job market wasn’t likely to loosen up at all. (And it still hasn’t.)

This was in the mid- to late 1990s. Through what then passed as online searching, I tiptoed into exploring opportunities in higher education administration, where I imagined my reader/analyst/writer skill-set might be put to good use. That led to a few fascinating interviews (as far away as southern California), and it also showed me that I really enjoyed online work. In those days, I knew absolutely nothing about the field of advancement/philanthropy research or the APRA universe. One day, though, I discovered my undergraduate alma mater was looking for a “Development Research Officer.” The ad said they wanted someone with “insatiable curiosity.” That certainly got my attention – and I was rather quickly hooked.

My philanthropy research/writing adventure has now spanned both my undergrad and grad school alma maters, as well as a highly respected local health care system. Nearly every day, I’ve had the privilege of learning new things – often, about professional/personal life-stories, industries, or technology innovations I wouldn’t otherwise have been drawn to studying.

And speaking of “industries”: Your use of the phrase “social profit sector” is striking. Typically, we see “non-profit sector,” or “not-for-profit.” In that framework, with the “for-profit” corporate world juxtaposed with the “not-for-profit” Everything Else, the work we do is de-valued: not designed to generate – not motivated by – profit; implicitly, not producing value. Your more affirming and, I think, more accurate framework says that all work has value, adds value, produces profit. The question isn’t profit vs. no profit; rather, it’s where the profit goes, and who tends to benefit the most.

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

For me, philanthropy has always – in part – been about story-telling: research information that helps to build or strengthen relationships, or words in a specially crafted proposal or letter that inspire some sort of action. It would probably be more precise to describe concentric circles of stories. In the case of research, for example, this would involve a story about a constituent that prompts a colleague to connect, or re-connect; the colleague shares with the constituent a focused, tailored story – perhaps a proposal – about the organization; and the constituent, ideally, feels inspired to create a story of her or his own: a story about how the organization fits with a personal passion and warrants a strategic investment of time or money that will benefit all involved, that will change the status quo in some significant way. Stories are always about the drama of change: people changing, and people struggling to change the world. That’s philanthropy – and that’s the energy I’ve always seen in it, at least at its best.

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

The University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee campus – known as “UWM” – serves a high percentage of students for whom an undergraduate education would traditionally be out of reach. These are young people from very under-resourced families, who really couldn’t pursue a college degree without a great deal of scholarship support, or other forms of financial aid. For them, that degree is a kind of personal and professional lifeline – a ticket into an otherwise inaccessible network of opportunities and possibilities. That part of UWM’s mission is personally resonant for me because I was basically a first-generation college student. My uncle finished college, but neither my mom nor my dad did.

The broader mission connection for me is the obvious organizational focus on higher education, on learning. All through school (grade school, high school, college, and grad school), I loved the personal challenge of learning and the ways I felt stretched by reading, thinking, and writing. My undergraduate experience – at a small, well-regarded liberal arts college in northeastern Wisconsin – taught me a fair amount of “what,” of content, but, far more importantly, more enduringly, a great deal of “how” and “why.” It accelerated my curiosity and helped me develop some practical (and a few idiosyncratic!) habits for lifelong learning. Working for an organization where a love of learning and a drive for personal growth and achievement are valued deeply is true gold. Helping the organization build relationships with philanthropic investors who are passionate about those values is priceless.

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

I enjoy the challenge, the variety, the constant learning, and the frequent immersion in “gee-whiz,” almost Star Trek-style data analysis and technology. I especially enjoy serving as a kind of strategic filter for our Development and Alumni Relations team, diving into the daily tsunami of constituent information, cultural and industry and philanthropic trends, and national and global news, and re-surfacing with a few practical nuggets that could actually help colleagues in their work. Without a doubt, though, I find the most joy in preparing major gift prospect referrals. They often feel like complex puzzles: finding the “right” constituent from somewhere in the vast not-on-our-radar pool; piecing together just the “right” parts – the most compelling, most action-motivating parts – of that constituent’s professional, personal, and philanthropic story; and then presenting the findings in just the “right” way, to the “right” front-line colleague. Maybe the word “puzzles” doesn’t fully capture the tingly thrill I often feel with referrals; puzzles can be pretty darn frustrating. Some forest imagery might be more apt. A referral is a tiptoe-ish exploration beyond the edge of the team’s familiar, well-mapped forest. You go out ahead, into some untraveled, totally new territory; it’s a little dark and mysterious, and there could be stuff that doesn’t make much sense at all; but you look around, poke here and there, and find what you can; and then you come back with – yes – the most interesting, evidence-grounded story possible. You say: “Hey, folks – come along and look at this. There’s no clear path, but the trip will be well worth it.”

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

Travel is great, because it lifts you out of the usual routines, brings you in touch with new places and people and ideas, and forces you to think on your feet and learn fast; it’s fun, and usually pretty eye-opening. But it can also be expensive and time-consuming – so reading is a wonderful alternative. If I don’t have sufficient “imaginary travel” time with my Kindle every Sunday afternoon or evening, I feel that lack throughout the following week. The two elderly collies we share our home with also help me to recharge. Communicating and romping around and just living day-to-day with them can involve a very different kind of thinking – not the ways of perceiving the world or using language that office culture is built on. Nearly every day, those two madcap, smart, highly “vocal,” irresistibly sweet dogs teach me quite a lot. And their fierce curiosity about every aspect of their environment is a source of real inspiration.

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

For several years in the early to mid-2000s, I had the opportunity to help lead the Wisconsin chapter of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA). It was a time of considerable change and growth for the chapter, and having a hand in some of that was – and remains – one of the most rewarding volunteer activities I’ve had the privilege of participating in. I’ve also been involved in various ways with APRA International’s quarterly professional journal, Connections. I guest-edited an issue on the varied paths people have followed into philanthropy research; from 2006 to 2009, I wrote a futurist column called “One Foot in the Future”; and I’ve served on – and recently rejoined – the Editorial Advisory Committee. Because I love writing, these Connections experiences have been richly rewarding.

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?

Following about a decade of college teaching, philanthropy research/writing has been my second career. So far, a couple of experiences stand out. While working previously at the aforementioned health care system, I was the lead writer for a multimillion dollar proposal in support of a cancer and blood disorders center. It was fully funded, and I’m delighted to know that some words on a page helped advance a relationship enough that lives could be transformed – in some cases, even saved. To be a part of something like that is pretty humbling – and puts an awful lot of other stuff in perspective.

Before working in Health Care Land, I had been at UWM – not as Director of Research (my current role), but as an Assistant Director. During that earlier stretch here (1999-2002), in a prospect referral, I identified a graduate who was, back then, a rising star in Hollywood. In the intervening years, UWM was able to develop a good relationship with this now-celebrity-status individual, one that is continuing to grow today. There are some fascinating possibilities with the person, and I appreciate being able to step back, take the long view, and trace the whole arc of the story.

But your question was really about “lasting impact.” If I have that at all, I’m imagining it might come from what I’m planning will be my next (third!) career: full-time fiction writing. We’ll see how that goes. I can’t wait.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Lisa Howley

Lisa Howley, Director of Relationship Management at Johns Hopkins Institutions

Lisa headshotLisa is a passionate fundraiser and leading expert on relationship management and its impact on organizational development and growth. I first met her in 2005, when we were fresh new members of the APRA Board of Directors. I instantly felt connected to Lisa – she is an authentic person with a wonderful sense of curiosity and warmth. Our volunteer roles often overlapped as we worked on the conference planning committee and the association’s professional journal. Lisa is always willing to share her passion through volunteer leadership roles and speaking engagements for APRA, MARC, CASE, and AFP. What I most admire is how Lisa brings her full self to these roles and how she creates a sense of enthusiasm and engagement that is contagious.

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

Like many others, the social profit sector chose me. I started in my career as a family counselor, which I did for several years. After burning out, I turned to my passion for writing, and was a writer and editor for a Baltimore publishing company focused on business creation and marketing.

I was looking to continue my career as a writer when I responded to an ad in the local paper for Johns Hopkins which said, ‘Are you a writer? Then we want you!’ or something along those lines. The ad was for a Development Research position – and that is how I began my career in fundraising. It was a love affair from the start.

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

When I was beginning in high school, I vividly remember talking to the father of a close family friend about what I wanted to do after I graduated. I told him that my dream was to build public libraries and help ensure that anyone who wanted to read had free access to books. I didn’t know that what I was describing was philanthropy; all I knew was the tremendous impact public libraries had had on me growing up and wanting to give that positive experience to someone else in return. I also knew I did not (and suspected I never would) have the money to make this dream a reality.

At that time, I only knew of philanthropy from the giving side. It was a profound discovery to learn about the fundraising profession years later. Working in fundraising has changed my view of philanthropy, in the sense I now have a richer and much more complete understanding of how philanthropy operates and the impact philanthropy has in the world.

Janice: How does your organization’s mission connect to your personal values? What brings you the most joy in your work?

I am a life-long learner, and so Johns Hopkins’ mission connects to my very core. I have witnessed many advances in education, knowledge and research as a result of philanthropy. These advances continually move and inspire me, both in my work and personal life.

And for me it is also about possibility for the betterment of mankind. I will never forget sitting in a movie theater in 1986 as a young girl watching Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home, where the crew has traveled back in time to a 1986 earth. Towards the end of the movie, Kirk and Bones have gone to a hospital to retrieve Chekov, and Bones encounters a sick women lying on a gurney in the hallway. He mutters something about barbarian treatment she is receiving and pulls out a flat item to scan her body, and then proceeds to cure her with this item! I sat in my seat in a state of wonderment thinking – this is the future of medicine, this will happen, and I want to be part of it.

So it is a joy to work at an organization where I feel that I am part of the future, where the betterment of mankind is happening all around me, and that my efforts help in some small way to support this.

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

I strive to make the most of my time with family and friends, and weekends are always for them. I am an avid reader, and still writing. I have been thinking lately of taking a shot at a screenplay or comic book, some kind of new medium I haven’t tackled before. I also love to travel and explore. I have a goal of visiting every country in my lifetime – four down, only 192 left to go!

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

Yes. I have regularly volunteered with APRA over the past 10 years, and have found these experiences incredibly enriching and rewarding. But more often I see it from the donors who have given to the various organizations I have worked out. When I first started in fundraising it amazed me to hear donors who had made significant gifts thank us for the opportunity to give and to make an impact! Our job is to provide meaningful and fulfilling experiences for volunteers and donors, and if we do our job right, I truly believe that gratitude is felt by all.

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?

To make the possibilities of tomorrow happen now. While I can’t cure cancer or pioneer a new mode of learning, I am always looking for new ways to advance our relationship management efforts at Hopkins. I would like to think that my work has had an impact on the growth and development of the relationship management profession, and will continue to in the future.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Christina Attard

Christina Attard, Ask Better | Give Smarter – Development Director & Blogger at

Christina photoChristina and I met at AFP Congress last year and recently discovered we grew up in the same small community north of Toronto. That lead to reminiscing – with lots of laughter – about school, not so great part time jobs (at local factories), and local hang outs. This is what happens when you connect with Christina. She goes deep and wants to learn who you are and share who she is. That leads to joyful conversations.

Christina sees herself beyond the role of fundraiser. She is an advisor who serves both donors and the organizations that they give to. She connects “the wishes and dreams of donors with the needs and vision of their charity of choice.” This is how she is helping charities Ask Better and donors Give Smarter. She is directing the fundraising efforts for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan and serving about 140,000 Roman Catholics in 160 parish communities.

On top of all that she has a secret super-power – she is a technical gift-planning nerd who can communicate in normal language.

The fundraising world is greatly enhanced from having people like Christina who are willing to use their superpowers to make the world a better place.

Connect with Christina at or on Twitter @GPtekkie

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

Like many people who entered the profession at the time that I did, it was a career that found me rather than something I sought out. However, after about five years of working in a development office, I took some time to step back and evaluate whether this was something that I would try to pursue as a more senior professional. The key was in reflecting on what I’d always done “for fun” and what my strengths are – I’d been a girl guide for many years as a youth, which has a strong focus on community involvement and I’d volunteered on fundraising committees through high school – these experiences were a lot of fun for me. I also reflected on the fact that I love writing, speaking and getting to know people, but I also like planning and strategy and had been successful so far in those things at work. Fundraising was a good fit and would give me a chance to get better at the things I already enjoyed.

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

The words “philanthropy” and “charity” for me are interchangeable. Philanthropy has its roots in Greek and charity has its roots in the Latin language. Both are connected to root-words for “love of others.” My definition is continuing to develop, but at this time, philanthropy is at its root a demand for greater love in our society. Love is not possible unless it takes place inside the structure of a relationship. When fundraising becomes focussed on the transactional – you purchase a ticket or an item, or “if everyone gave $1, we’d change the world,” or your gift will trigger tax savings – it restricts the work that philanthropy offers for the giver to enter into a relationship with the receiver, and vice-versa, and for both to effect a change in the other person’s life. “Relationship-building” can’t simply be a buzz-word for a fundraising technique that involves turning over a high-volume of cultivation and solicitation “calls.” To be true to its definition, philanthropy has to be about being a bridge-builder between individuals who may never meet but who can come to experience the world as a global village – a global village of not just economies or commerce, but one where love is the basic unit of exchange.

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

I work for a religious organization that happens to also be the religion that I practise personally, so it’s about as close of a fit as you can have professionally. As such, my organization is also capable of challenging my personal values. What faiths have in common is that they always call for a transformation of the believer, so there is a constant push to rethink the purpose of what I’m trying to achieve as a fundraiser and how our development office needs to operate to be in alignment with the organization’s mission.

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

I have a piece of paper on the wall over my desk that says: “Surprise and Delight.” The most joy comes for me when I know that something I’ve done or said or written has connected positively with someone. Few of my donors expect thanks, but I love every opportunity I can find to surprise them with gratitude and to leave them feeling important and delighted, because they are important to me.

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

I love riding horses. It’s an activity where if you over-think it, things don’t go well. If you under-think riding because you’re distracted by other things, it doesn’t go well. It’s an activity that brings me to that “zen” place of being aware enough to go through the training routine but also forces me to mentally let go of the rest of my thoughts. Fundraising can be a bit cerebral – it’s a talking, thinking, planning type of job – riding like many sports, is about making a physical connection. There’s a rare but wonderfully rewarding feeling when everything comes into sync between horse and rider.

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

Sometimes yes, but sometimes no. There is an ebb and a flow for me to the balance between family and community. Before family became busy with children, there was time to volunteer for 2 or 3 different groups in a week. Now, my focus is on 1 volunteer commitment and being available for my family the rest of the time. That will likely change as things evolve with family. The key for me is to remember that it’s all a balance between time, talent and treasure. All are precious resources and the distribution has to change to fit life’s circumstances. Right now, I invest time in family and in my profession, talent is shared between my professional position and my one volunteer commitment as a board member, and treasure is something that I can share with my family but also with several organizations each year. The balance and being honest about what’s possible is what brings me peace and 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?

This is a good question that I’m not ready to answer yet. It takes time to explore the sector. To experience different aspects and to step outside of the sector and see it from another perspective. To learn, read, connect with others and reflect before knowing where you can offer something unique. The leaders who I see doing this often wait 20-30 years before stepping out with their big idea that changes the landscape – I see this with leaders like Paul Alofs (Passion Capital) – my thoughts on this are still under development.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Rickesh Lakhani

Rickesh Lakhani, Director, Campaign, United Way of York Region

Rickesh headshotBy title, Rickesh is Director of Campaign, but he also chooses to describe himself as “Social-Profit Sector Builder, Involved Community Citizen, Warrior Against Apathy.” When I met Rickesh at a networking event earlier this year, I walked away feeling energized and inspired. We had an engaging conversation that, on the surface, was about assessment tools, but really was about human nature and understanding each other to build stronger connections. It was a true kindred spirit moment for me and I have been grateful that many additional conversations have grown from that moment.

I know that people who know Rickesh (in real life or on Twitter) get the same feeling. He is curious and positive and his commitment to leaving this world in a better place is infectious.

Rickesh loves “to meet, learn from and support” people who are contributing to a better world. To me he is a one of these people and a great example of leader in our sector who focuses on bringing out the best in others and celebrating their contributions. He embodies the idea that success is a shared experience and this perspective shines through his answers below.

Connect with Rickesh on Twitter @ConstantChanges or through his blog

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

One day you wake up, and you realize “I’m a fundraiser – how did that happen?” That is exactly what happened to me. While my education was focused on business, I always felt that the bottom line I wanted to work for was the number of people helped. I knew early on that drawing meaning from career would be important, after being in roles where I felt devoid of that meaning. A quick stint in a contract role on a fundraising team, and I was sold.

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

Give give give. The generous people of the world are what keep it from swirling into oblivion. Philanthropy is giving anything when you didn’t have to, but wanted to. It’s a can of soup to a homeless shelter, it’s an hour of time at a PTA meeting, coming up with a great idea to resolve a big problem, a $5 donation to your favourite charity or leaving a legacy gift. Philanthropy is not based on the size or value of what you give – it’s that you care enough to do something for someone else. I used to think philanthropy had a minimum million $ price tag and that it was only about money – but that is like trying to put a price on love and compassion. Fundraising is a part of philanthropy, but it’s not the whole thing. I remember the story of a member of a community living organization that saved pennies over time to pull together $10 so he could make a donation. THAT is philanthropy.

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

The big picture is really important to me – thinking about the systems that are behind a lot of issues that we face. United Way is working to “turn off the tap” and stop issues before they start. At the same time, we recognize urgent needs aren’t going away, so we do provide support for individuals and families having difficulties accessing housing, safety for women and children in abusive situations, services to help newcomers succeed in Canada and mental health supports for youth and adults. It’s the best of all worlds – crisis, healing and prevention. It’s the only way I believe we can face these issues. Homelessness, poverty, vulnerable youth – these are the wickedest of wicked issues, and they’re not going away unless everyone has skin in this game. This ties into my core belief – we are all responsible for each other’s success.

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

Facing exciting new challenges literally every day. The chance to try different strategies and see how they go (or occasionally don’t go). Providing a space for people to feel good and give back. That look on a donor or volunteer’s face when they realize what they have accomplished. Working with the best team anyone could ever imagine. Those are all great. Seeing those around me succeed is by far the greatest source of joy. Any success I have had or will have is completely dependent on those around me. Zig Ziglar said something to that effect – and I believe it. Their success is our shared success – and that brings tons of joy!

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

The work itself is energizing…seriously! Although we all need balance. Personal interests are even more important when life is hectic, even though ironically that’s when we feel we don’t have the time to put into them. Spending as much time as possible with my young son and wife are the best moments by far. Bike riding and playing the drums are great stress busters and invigorators. Being outside and hearing the natural sounds of the world, whether it’s birds, the wind or children playing – that can make time completely stand still and you can get into quite a zen state. My extroverted side is energized by meeting people working to make the world better. I’ve learned tons from them and they’ve helped me so much, I always walk away with an extra kick in my step. That’s how I felt after I first met you, Janice! It’s a closed loop – the more you do things that energize you, the more energy you have, and more time you will invest in these things because you can see the benefit.

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

The ultimate litmus test is how you feel – and I feel great! I also get to see firsthand how people feel about joining the cause and fighting the good fight – and they feel pretty good too. Seeing groups of people rally together, achieve a goal and celebrate success is very fulfilling. As far as volunteering, I have gained so much in the way of experience, relationships and fun that I’ve become a broken record pushing people to get out there and get involved in the community. You get so much back that you can’t afford missing chances to give of yourself. Give even an hour a month to a cause you care about and doors will open. I promise that.

This is also about more than happiness. This is about paying back the social capital that was given to you by others along your path, sometimes without you knowing. Nobody does it alone. So not only does it make you happy to give to others, you pretty much owe it to the world!

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?

If I can spend my life connecting people to each other, supporting them to achieve success and helping them to smash their life goals. I will chalk that up as a good career. The ultimate legacy would be that whatever I am part of creating would continue when I’m gone. It has to move from being about the person to being about a sustainable movement that lives on and beyond. You must ensure that others can take over and keep the torch burning, or you haven’t done your job. If I can start a couple of lasting movements, I will consider it a great career.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Marc Villeneuve

Marc Villeneuve, CEO, Fondation du CSSS de Gatineau

Marc headshotMarc and I worked together at KCI Ketchum Canada where he was the Vice President of the West Quebec / East Ontario division. He has since gone on to his current role as CEO of Fondation du CSSS de Gatineau, a complex organization that encompasses three regional hospitals, three chronic care hospices, and nine social service community centres.

I knew Marc had to be a part of this series because I so admire his passion. His love of his work is an extension of the passion he has for his community and his family. He works in the community that raised him and where he raised his family. His commitment to his organization and to the broader philanthropic culture in Quebec rings clear in his words below.

One story in particular illustrates what Marc stands for as a leader. Every year he devotes time to personally meeting with and thanking the almost 6,000 employees at his organization. In our culture we often speak of not having enough time, but Marc proves with his “MAY: month of THE FOUNDATION” commitment that good leaders create time for what is important to them. And for him that sense of community and connection is a key strategic priority and also part of what makes his work so personally fulfilling.

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

I didn’t choose the sector, it chose me. I had no idea of the true value/need of the social profit sector until I had my hands and feet in it. It started to make sense to me after achieving a couple of successes with a hospital Foundation.

The need to make a difference and feel that I have a positive impact on the lives of people around me.

Giving a humanistic purpose to the work I do and to the goals I set for myself.

The need to leave some form of discreet, significant legacy.

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

It is both an art and a science:
The art lies in the beauty of the human gesture of providing for others without expectations of personal gain or return.

The science lies in the ability and expertize of professional fundraisers in creating the perfect equation that will bring together the variables of community/organizational needs and the donors intent.

It is difficult to identify another form of human activity that brings together both concepts in such a way. In that perspective, I would place philanthropy close to music in terms of creating beauty.

Philanthropy has not changed; managing philanthropy however is ever changing. It is and has always been influenced by context, opportunities, nature, leaders, politics and so many other variables. Professional fundraisers are the ones who have changed and will need to keep doing so otherwise they will lose the science and will not be able to deliver the art.

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

All causes are worth supporting and to that sense, all social profit sector organizations are close to my heart. My Foundation caters to health care and social services therefore provide direct, front line support to people. I’m a people person…

Our beneficiary is a massive organization that includes 3 regional hospitals, 3 chronic care hospices, 9 social service community centres with a 6 000 people work force. It caters the residents in the city that I was born, my wife and her family was born, my children were born. The institution is very close to my heart therefore anything I can do to ensure its development and enhancement, I will do.

For me, it is all about people helping people. We are not here for a long time, why not try and make it enjoyable while we’re here!

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

Small things and large things:
I have a staff of 70 employees and knowing that most of them are happy to come to work in the morning brings joy to me. Knowing that by creating jobs, our Foundation provides for their families also brings joy to me.

Being waved good morning by the hospital personnel and members of my team is fundamental to me. Small gestures, large impact.

At a macro level, knowing that part of the outcome of my work will change the way people receive treatment or social service support is significant to me. My role will enhance the quality of life of my community.

Also, having the opportunity to work with community leaders who are looking at ways that they can provide value to their community, tying a cause to the intent, acting as a catalyst makes me sleep well at night.

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

I turn my iphone off.

My wife and I have raised 3 children and two have left the nest. We have more time for each other and are in the process of cashing in on our investment in our family. We travel, we host friends, we garden, we read a lot.

I also do physical training on a daily basis to recharge the batteries but also to empty myself. When I train, I train intensively always to the beat of music. I listen to the music and I let myself get carried by the notes, the rhythm and again, the beauty of artistic creations.

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

Both from a donor and a receiver’s perspective.
I have always made promise to myself that I would share my professional knowledge in philanthropy with my community and make my environment more philanthropy-savvy. I mentor groups in my community all the time and introduce them to the art & science of philanthropy. That’s how I donate.

As Leader of a Foundation, I have the privilege of receiving a lot for my organisation both financially and altruistically. I work with a community of volunteers, my Board members who are committed, dedicated and focused on one thing: making a difference. We have a very low turn-over on our Board therefore I conclude that there must be pride and value to this form of giving.

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 want to have a say on where philanthropy is going to be in the minds of the people in the province of Quebec. Culturally, we have been accustomed to being sought after by the Church or by government. Through its development, the province has moved away from religion and government involvement is at its historical lowest. People must take it upon themselves to look after themselves. Through our profession, I want to increase our capacity to be our own caretakers.

This is why I have joined Quebec’s Association des professionnels en gestion philanthropique (APGP) and I’m now vice-president of this organization whose mandate is to increase capacity of our charitable organization’s management.

Basically I want to fast-track Quebec into 2013’s philanthropy.

Fundraising with Joy Interview – Diane Crane

Diane Crane, Senior Associate Vice President of Development at Oklahoma State University Foundation

Diane headshotDiane and I connected through the professional association APRA back in the mid-2000s. Diane is a fundraiser committed to creating meaningful experiences that allow her donors to connect their passions and their philanthropy. I began to coach Diane not too long after she moved to Oklahoma. She is passionate about living her values and using her personal strengths. It has been a pleasure to watch her claim a more senior role and create her own definition of leadership. I see her as the best type of leader – one who empowers her team and brings out the best in each person. Diane gives with passion – to OSU, to her team, and to her donors. I admire how she is also committed to living in the moment and enjoying many passions such spending time with family and friends, creative pursuits, travel, appreciating the beauty in nature, and of course college football.

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

The desire to be part of a mission greater than myself and to contribute to our society’s well-being was always strong for me. I began in journalism, which is also a mission-driven venture, serving as the critical Fourth Estate in a democracy. I gravitated to higher education and fundraising because I was raised to value the life-changing impact of education and wanted to help others have the same opportunities and access that I was able to enjoy, in part because of donor-funded scholarships.

Janice: What does philanthropy mean to you?

Philanthropy is the joy of sharing, of transforming a mere asset (cash, stock, land, etc.) into an opportunity (education, health care, clean air, etc.) for others, which in turn enriches the communities we share.

Has your definition changed over time?

When I first began working in Development, as a prospect researcher, I thought fundraising was pleading with people for money. I thought, “I could never do that.” I grew up in the self-reliant Midwest and West; asking for help just isn’t something I’ve ever been comfortable with. It wasn’t until I began interacting with donors and saw how deeply moved they are by the impact of their giving that the light switched on for me. Development officers help people achieve something highly important to them, and being a part of that is deeply gratifying. When a donor hands me a check and says “Thank you” to me – that’s humbling and moving and affirming.

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

My grandmother was a small child when her family immigrated to the United States from Poland; at the age of 14, her mother took her out of school so she could help support the family, and she went to work in a Chicago stockyards slaughterhouse. That was the end of formal education for her. In turn, she was determined that her children would graduate from high school, and under her indomitable will my father reluctantly finished high school. He, in turn, determined that his children would graduate from college, and my parents sacrificed and worked hard and made significant life decisions around that goal: we would have the opportunity to go to college and get jobs that didn’t require us to break our backs and that paid well so we could live a better life than they or their parents had known. I know how a college education can change the trajectory of a life and of an entire family. Public education is about access; the land-grant mission is about applying that gained knowledge to improving the public welfare; as a fundraiser for Oklahoma State University, I help students (many of them first-generation college students) achieve more than they ever dreamt possible for themselves, often through the support of people just like them, who grew up in small towns and on family farms, who remember their own pioneering ancestors and the help they received along the way.

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

The donor’s look of happiness and excitement when I show them how making a donation can enable them to accomplish something very meaningful to them. And, again, that astonishing moment when the donor hands me a check and earnestly thanks me.

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

Since I am an introvert who has to act like an extrovert much of the time, I need peace and quiet, which I usually find in the early mornings. I love to sit in my sun room looking at our backyard and pond, watching the wildlife and trying to catch a picture of a bird in flight. I also love to travel, even if it’s just for a long weekend, to another part of the country or abroad for longer trips every other year or so. I like to see how other people live and sample the local cuisine (caussoulet, tom yam goong, gelato). I read for the same reasons (minus the food), and I keep an occasional journal since I like to be introspective and truly check in with myself: am I treating other people as well as I want to, am I stopping often enough to savor the best moments, am I appreciating what I’ve worked hard – and what my parents and grandparents worked hard – to achieve?

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

Happiness – beyond the fleeting happiness of a good cup of gelato, for example – derives from just a few sources in life. For those of us who are very devoted to work and career, we will be happy if that work aligns with our values, so I am definitely happy working in fundraising and probably would not be happy working for Widget Inc., even if that company made the best gelato machine in the world. In terms of my own philanthropy, I recently made a stretch commitment to my alma mater for an endowed scholarship honoring my parents. The commitment level is actually a little scary, but I can’t wait to meet the fund’s first recipient in a few years and to tell my parents about it, which I’ll do at Thanksgiving. Knowing that my family’s faith in and commitment to education will be indelibly etched brings me a great sense of satisfaction, which is a lasting form of 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?

I don’t want to be regarded as a highly productive fundraiser (even though I want to be that); I most want to be regarded as a colleague who helped others grow and become better at doing their work, particularly by recognizing that when the donor’s joy of giving is the central focus of all we do, we find joy and satisfaction and meaning in our lives as well.