Fundraiser of the Month: Patrick Sallee

July 28, 2008

This is a new idea that would replace the Org of the Month concept I have been doing for the last few months. I will be highlighting a different fundraiser every month and asking them to talk about what makes them good at what they do. This week the Fundraiser of the month is Patrick Sallee. Feel free to ask him a question or refer someone you know of that’s a great fundraiser in the comments section below. If you want to learn more about Patrick feel free to check out his blog. Thanks Patrick!

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

I am the Director of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Kansas City. My position focuses on corporate, foundation and individual donors, primarily outside of our special event fundraising.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

I enjoy working with people that are committed to a cause. It energizes me everyday to see volunteers so committed to doing something to help change a child’s life. You can’t help but give it your best when you see so many people that care and whose lives are affected for the better. I enjoy development because for me its about finding ways that everyone can participate in changing lives…not just volunteers, not just donors, but finding a method that an individual can care about.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

I think the best tip I was ever given is to learn as much as I can about other fields and keep up with current trends. Not only does this make you much more interesting in general, it allows you to connect to your donors and board members in their world. We spend so much time talking about our organizations and our impact, essentially ourselves, then we don’t get into the real passion of our donors. If fundraisers can connect on that personal a level with the donor, it builds trust and respect.

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

I think the most frustrating thing for me about the profession is the constant effort to be seen as a professional position. I can’t count the number of times I have been at one of our special events and introduced myself as being from Big Brothers Big Sisters and within minutes been asked what my ‘real’ job is.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?

When I first started at BBBS in November I was going through a list of past donors and contacts that I should make a priority to visit in the first month. One that stood out is in upper management with a large national bank located in Kansas City. She had been a personal supporter of our agency, but also is involved with the corporate giving. I took her to lunch in the first month I was on the job as an introduction, get to know you meeting. When we got to the part of lunch where I would ask how I could approach them for an end of the year gift and if they had room in the budget, she cut me off and said, “We would like to give you a grant for $13,000, could you submit a proposal to me by the end of the day tomorrow?” Obviously I could, but I left laughing because I haven’t experienced this since and think it will be the rare occasion, but no less gratifying.

How do you help your CEO become a better fundraiser?

I think the most important thing I can do with our CEO to help him as a fundraiser is to provide him with plenty of info about people we will see at events. I try to remind him of where specific donors and future donors are in the pipeline of our visiting and their knowledge of BBBS. He sees a ton of people and at our events has been very hands on. I try to remind him the day of who to make sure and see and also let him know conversations I have had that he should be knowledgeable about if a donor was to bring it up.