The featured fundraiser this month is Janice Chan for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. Always feel free to send me an email if you want to nominate someone.
What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?
As a development associate for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, I work with direct mail, manage our donor database, write grant proposals, write copy for marketing materials, and support our online efforts and special events.
What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?
I am incredibly fortunate to have two loving parents, and my dad has always been really good about giving me advice and supporting me, but letting me make my own decisions regardless of how he felt. I’ve also had some great teachers and other people who gave me the push I needed–like my third grade teacher, Mrs. Morillo, who encouraged me to write (something for which I will be forever grateful). I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those people. Unfortunately, a lot of kids don’t have that kind of support system, and that’s what keeps me going. Ultimately, what the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation does is not about giving kids equipment or a chance to go to summer camp–it’s about getting them into something positive, where they can connect with adults who will provide that guidance and support and teach them how to make good decisions for themselves.
What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?
This isn’t really specific to fund development, but the lack of time. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done as soon or to the degree that I’d like. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a perfectionist, but when it comes to development and building relationships with people, you have to get those details right, you have to do your research. But at the same time, constantly working into the night and on the weekends just isn’t healthy, and it ultimately affects your work if you aren’t spending any time with your friends and family or otherwise taking care of yourself. I know work-life balance is a big buzz word (buzz phrase?) these days, but it’s so true and I think people in the nonprofit sector especially struggle with it because it seems selfish to prioritize yourself and your personal life over people who are a lot less fortunate.
Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations that you’d like to share?
Not a donor visit or a solicitation, but awhile ago we were notified of someone who had recently passed away and that his family had asked people to donate to us in lieu of flowers. Normally we get a few memorial donations in the next week or two. Donations in memory of this man started coming, and they kept coming for a solid month and a half. Not just relatives and close friends, but people in the community, his coworkers, his business partners. We had received a copy of his obituary, but some people also included notes speaking of the kind of person he was–a great father, coworker, volunteer coach, and so on. It was just amazing how many lives he had touched. I wish I could’ve met him.