If you would have asked me in my 20s – which were twenty years ago now – if I anticipated growing up to be a fundraiser, I would have said no. In fact, I wouldn’t have even known what a fundraiser was.
As a person of faith, I had grown up in the church. I participated in multiple fundraising activities – yard sales, car washes, silent auctions. I had written my fair share of mission support letters and been a part of multi-million dollar capital campaigns.
But never as a professional. Not that I ever really thought about it, but fundraising was always simply a means to an end. It was never a thing itself.
Fast forward twenty years, and I find myself not only energized by the possibilities of fundraising as a profession. I’m really good at it. And I see how the ability to generate actual revenue, directed toward the advancement of a unique organizational mission, is a rare and valuable ability. There are few who actually raise money – including professional fundraisers themselves.
Not trying to brag, but I would put myself in the category of folks who know how to raise a buck.
In my first gig – at Loyola University Chicago – I successfully partnered with the Dean of the University Libraries to raise $1.5 million for a renovation of the Rare Books and Special Collections. I collaborated on teams that closed multiple six-figure gifts, and I personally closed planned gifts of $750,000 and $300,000, one of which was a beautiful downtown condominium that Loyola was able to turn into immediate cash.
During a time when several programs were struggling, mine were in the green. I regularly led my team in visits, donor outreach, and proposals open and closed.