I discovered the fundraising part of philanthropy quite by accident. One of my first summer jobs was at a newly established youth centre in my small hometown.
My first task was to deal with the fact that no one knew where we were on the main street. I got some wood donated and asked a relative to make a sign. Next, I recruited a local artist to mentor youth to paint murals on the blank 20-foot high walls of our activity room. When I found out that we didn’t have a budget for paint, I worked on securing donations from local businesses.
By the end of the summer I was a budding fundraiser.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve developed a bit of a niche in the sector. I tend to be drawn to work where I can build organizations from the ground up or develop fundraising capacity where none previously existed. I like building new strategies. I like guiding charities through new fundraising adventures. I like being a part of achieving what at first seems daunting or impossible.
I’ve even started a charity from my kitchen table – the Ten Oaks Project – which was the first of its kind in Canada offering summer camp programs for children and youth of LGBTQ communities. It’s now been running for 15+ years.
I was initially hired on to the Good Works team because of my digital acumen. Even though I had an 8-track player in my childhood bedroom, I’ve never had to raise money without the internet. Since then, I’ve developed my direct mail chops and even co-authored a book on legacy giving, You Can’t Take it With You: The Art and Science of Legacy Fundraising.
All of my life experience have been channelled into how I lead the team here at Good Works, who in turn guide the work of the charities who’ve hired us to grow and manage their annual giving programs.