I grew up with a strong commitment to social justice and wanted to make an impact on the region I loved most—Latin America. My sophomore year, my advisor asked what I wanted to do with my International Studies major. “I want to work at WOLA,” I replied. WOLA is an organization fighting for meaningful policy change in Latin America, and I needed to be a part of it. With hard work and a bit of luck, I landed my first professional job there.
One of my natural talents is my ability to bring people together by identifying similar or complimentary interests, skills, or traits. I rarely meet someone without saying, “Gee, you know who you should get to know.” I relish every opportunity to meet new people and develop deep, meaningful, and long-term relationships with them. I think nearly everyone I know would say that, by the end of a conversation, if there’s an issue I care about deeply, I’ve convinced the other person why she should care too.
I used to think that fundraising was mainly for the benefit of the organization, but I quickly realized that philanthropy is a way that donors can participate meaningfully in causes they care about. Bingo! This is where I could make my greatest impact: helping donors leverage their giving to push for change. At its heart, development work is about building bridges—bringing people together to make a difference.
I started at WOLA as the Communications and Development Assistant, but our Development Director convinced me that my talents could be put to their best use in fundraising. I was promoted to Development Associate and given responsibility for our low-to-mid-range donors. Last year, I played an integral role in increasing our donor retention from 60 to 72 percent and doubled the income that WOLA received from our year-end direct mail campaign. I’ve been a guest presenter for the Chronicle of Philanthropy and a guest blogger for the Grow Report. I have already learned a lot, but I still have a way to go.
Development is not just my job, it’s also what I do in my free time. I leverage my experience in my local and global communities to help organizations that can’t afford professional fundraisers. I coach their staffs or boards on approaching and cultivating donors, building donor bases, and stewarding them effectively. I want to continue to advance my own abilities because I can see how much more I could do for them.
The planMGO workshop would be valuable not only for me, but, more importantly, for the many deserving organizations in which I play a role. I am confident I have the traits to be a Master Gift Officer, but I lack some of the more sophisticated tools that would enable me to excel in this area.
Effective fundraising makes possible the good work of social-impact organizations. Master Gift Officers are crucial in this respect. I know that with the right training, I can be one of the best.