I’m reminded of why I love being a fundraiser in an educational setting every day of the week, but occasionally someone will engage me in a conversation about certain aspects of what I do, and a fire is lit inside me. Just as I discussed in my first installment of “Why I love what I do”, it gets me excited to talk to people about how passionate I am about fundraising. Getting excited about sharing with people what I love about what I do makes me even more excited to do it. It’s a very happy cycle to get caught in.
So what’s another thing I love about what I do??? The fact that what I do seems to combine my passions together into one field of work. For one thing, I love meeting new people and getting to know them – one-on-one (I’m an introvert, after all) – in a meaningful way. I get to do that a lot as a fundraiser / alumni relations officer, and it’s a pleasure every time to chat with an individual about what they do now, how they stay engaged with their alma mater, and how their experience at my institution was. Every story is unique and wonderful to hear.
I studied English in university and wasn’t sure if it’d be my BA that counted in getting my first job or my English degree, specifically. Turns out it’s both! A degree is important to get you in the door of the job you want, but I find my English degree – both in regards to my knowledge of writing and language, and my general critical thinking skills – is specifically valuable. Plus, more than just knowing about writing, I love to write! It’s my favourite and most efficient way of expressing myself, my thoughts, my intentions, and my ideas, and there are a lot of opportunities for writing in fundraising – whether it’s writing an appeal, writing a web article about exciting alumni news, or writing a customized proposal for a major gift prospect.
Secondly, I love words and language. Word choice is an integral part of fundraising, both in spoken and written forms. Sometimes it can come off as jargon (click here for an jargon-related, industry-specific laugh), but the truth is that the right word or phrase can evoke emotion, and emotion has so much to do with fundraising.
And that brings me to another thing I love about fundraising, I love the psychology of it. It’s not just a business matter – although some donors prefer it to be that way – but instead an exchange of passion, emotion, nostalgia, and more. In educational fundraising, a prospect’s memory of their time at the school, perhaps an opportunity made possible for them through a scholarship or bursary, can evoke such a strong sense of desire to give back. If they see a current student who is only able to attend the school with the help of financial aid, they might reflect back on their own experience, and feel a need to contribute in order to provide this student or other students’ with the opportunities they once enjoyed.
Like I said, it’s not just a business matter or a transaction of money – it’s an experience. An experience where a donor aligns his or her passions with their resources, matches their emotions up with their fortune. And that’s another thing I love, it’s a feel-good industry to work in. These aren’t static numbers on a spreadsheet. I can see the look on people’s faces when they’re reflecting on the difference that they’ve made, and it’s magic.
This is once again a moment to share the perfect and eloquent simplicity of a child’s definition of philanthropy:
“Because if you help other people, you’ll be a good person, and you’ll feel good inside.”
And that’s another reason why I love doing what I do.
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.