Nancy Seidl Nelson, CFRE
Development Officer for the Waukesha Memorial Hospital Foundation (ProHealth Care)
My current job focus is working with individuals interested in supporting ProHealth Care (major gifts) and overseeing our Planned Giving initiatives.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with a variety of people who are passionate about our mission and their role in supporting it – this includes fellow employees, physicians, community volunteers (Board Members) and especially donors who support us in creating a healthier community. When you can work in true partnership with people who want to make a difference, it’s an awesome day!
What prompted you to pursue development/fundraising as a career?
My initial career focus was public relations/marketing and my first “real job” in that area was with a small community hospital as a Communications Specialist. I then moved to another healthcare system – still in a communications roles but working directly within the Foundation. I began writing grant proposals, then direct mail, then someone asked me to staff a volunteer team, etc. When I moved to Annual Giving Director, there was no doubt I was firmly on the fundraising side and then needed to hire the next Communications staff member. I benefited from excellent team members and mentors – many of whom are still good friends today.
My professional goals have changed throughout my career and quite simply, my focus today is to enjoy what I’m doing and feel that I am making a positive impact every day. I strongly feel that you stay the course with that focus, the “prizes” – whatever you want them to be – title, career advancement, etc. will naturally follow.
What would you impart to a new development/fundraising professional?
Metrics/Targets/Technology are all important and great tools to help in your job, but do not underestimate the power of the personal touch that you bring to your job. Listening well and saying thank you cannot happen enough. Always present yourself professionally and make yourself known as the person who will always get the job done.
This month the Board of Directors intro is Amalia F. Schoone, CFRE, President-Elect of AFP Southeastern WI Chapter
Amalia is Principal Consultant, In Progress Consulting, LLC specializing in Board governance, fundraising, as well as communications, planning and program evaluation projects.
What prompted you to delve into the development/fundraising field?
I caught the desire for community improvement from my mother. As a child, she took me along on her volunteer jobs, including reading at the library and staffing the junior league store. That showed me we can all have the power to change the world.
What do you like most about your job?
I love my work so much! First of all, I meet lots of interesting and inspiring people who want to improve our community. Also, I encounter a range of needs and solutions in our community, and therefore better understand the breadth of requests our volunteers, donors and prospects hear on a daily basis. This helps me to help my clients cut through the “noise” to make a concise and compelling message. Also, I have the flexibility with my time to volunteer for causes close to my heart, including: Professional Dimensions, a networking organization where I serve on the Board; my daughters’ school, Hawley Environmental School, where I serve on the Governance Council; and CORE/El Centro, a natural healing center that improves access to therapies for all, regardless of income, where I’m volunteering on a fundraising project; and of course, AFP! My own volunteer experiences help shape and inform how I work with my clients’ volunteers.
Why does the development/fundraising field interest you?
Fundraising requires many of my favorite skills, including communicating, organizing and problem solving. We have many opportunities to meet fascinating people who we might not otherwise get to know. Also, we have many opportunities to advance our knowledge and skills. The foundational skills I learned as a professional and member of AFP helped me to earn my CFRE accreditation as well as earn admission to the Nonprofit Management Fund’s Board Consultants Institute II, which I completed in December 2009.
What are your hobbies?
I wish I had more time to pursue hobbies! Last weekend, I ran my second half marathon. Two years ago, I began running. Training this spring, I realized that running is a metaphor for life. First, I needed a goal. It took a friend’s invitation to set that goal (sounds like how we engage our donors, doesn’t it, through their peer networks?). Additionally, I needed to find the right pace in order to endure for a 13 mile run (which took me 2 hours, 4 minutes). I attempt to live by these same practices – with purpose and a steady stride, constantly moving forward.
If you could teach one thing to a new development/fundraising professional what would that be?
I started my career at the Milwaukee Public Museum as an assistant to the membership and special projects directors, then was promoted to special projects director. I had fabulous mentors there who introduced me to AFP. Then I went on to work at Children’s Hospital Foundation, followed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, and then I launched my own practice. By starting in an administrative capacity, I learned that clean, accurate data provides the most effective foundation upon which a fund development program can flourish. At these relatively large and established organizations, there were seasoned professionals who I could turn to for guidance. I also had the good fortune to see how all the elements of a fund development effort work together.
Today, through my consulting practice, many of the professionals I meet are beginning their careers in smaller, emerging organizations. These organizations often lack systems and technology, and these new professionals wonder where to turn for advice and guidance. I encourage all of my clients to join AFP; it’s the premier source for best practices and continuing education. Of greater significance, the camaraderie of our fellow members provides unparalleled support.
What are your goals for AFP in the future?
These are my goals for AFP over the next two years:
- Continue advancing the strategic plan, to provide quality services to our membership throughout Southeastern WI and engage a broad diversity of members in our work
- Diversify the chapter’s income generating efforts in order to do this; and
- Raise the recognition of AFP’s professionalism and expertise among and beyond the community of fundraisers.
I hope you will join in these efforts
At the April 2012 Chapter Meeting, our members voted to change our Chapter’s name from Greater Milwaukee to Southeastern Wisconsin. Why, you might ask?
We have members and potential members within our jurisdiction who did not see themselves as being part of the Greater Milwaukee area. To be more inclusive of the geographic diversity of our chapter, we decided to change our name.
This change may make it easier to recruit new members and build collaborations with other not-for-profits, professional groups, and academic institutions. We may also be able to secure underwriting for the Chapter from additional corporations who are regionally based.
Welcome to the Association of Fundraising Professionals Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter! We develop fundraising professionals and inspire a culture of philanthropy in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Jennifer Charpentier, Ph.D.
Membership and Diversity Committee, Distance Chair
I entered the AFP International Conference last month a mere fundraising professional, and departed as a fundraising leader. What’s the difference? Conference sessions reminded me that I learned many of the most critical fundraisingskills during childhood. For example, Girl Scouts taught me to “make new friends and keep the old.” As a consultant, I help my clients identify cost-effective techniques to welcome new donor prospects into their constituencies while at the same time maintaining targeted, engaging communications with current and lapsed donors. My parents told me, “treat other people the way you would like to be treated.” This taught me ethics, to always act honorably, and empathy, a valuable skill in anticipating the perspectives that donors and volunteers bring to their philanthropy. Conference sessions taught me to communicate with these valuable supporters in the language that most appeals to their concerns. And as a lifelong reader, I know that the best case for support uses words and visual imagery to show our supporters the transformational impact of their gifts. Many of the sessions at the Vancouver conference gave me new insight on these timeless fundraising lessons.
As a fundraising professional, I apply the educational opportunities through AFP to hone my skills to improve the philanthropic experience for nonprofit organizations and donors alike. Leadership takes this one step further – creating a vision for philanthropy within an organization — and the conference provided valuable insight on transforming to action.
Fundraising leaders employ persuasion and role modeling to implement their vision for fundraising success within their organizations, advanced by the technical skills we develop through AFP. Fundraising leaders engage their colleagues at all levels – peers, subordinates and superiors, including the Fund Development committee and Board — on the best ways to advance philanthropy. This includes striving for organizational success through participation in strategic decisions, advocating for resources, and sharing the educational experiences from AFP with their colleagues, volunteers and donors.
For 50 years, AFP has set the highest standards for the fundraising profession. As members of this vital and dynamic organization, we can take pride that our participation supports unparalleled leadership in the nonprofit sector and beyond. Ellen Gilligan, CEO, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and speaker at the April chapter educational session, acknowledged the leadership role of fundraisers at our meeting. Last month (during the International Conference), the City of Wauwatosa elected its new Mayor, Kathy Ehley, one of our chapter’s past Presidents. Our leadership can take us anywhere; where do you want it to take you? And the organization you serve?
Amalia F. Schoone, CFRE
In Progress Consulting LLC
President Elect, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter
Each month we will focus on one AFP board director to help everyone learn about the AFP of Southeastern Wisconsin’s leaders.
This month Julie Whelan Capell, the AFP chapter President.
Julie is the Director of Planning and Development at The Planning Council for Health & Human Services, Inc. in Milwaukee.
What prompted you to delve into the development/fundraising field? Like many people, I was exposed to fundraising as a child, raising money for school activities and as a Girl Scout. But I never considered a career in fundraising until Jean Gurney pulled me into the development department at the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee and started to teach me what development was all about. In those days, we had little file drawers—just like library card catalogs—filled with index cards on every YMCA donor, and part of my job was managing those files. But the part that got me hooked was when I started writing grant proposals. That feeling I get when a grant comes in is still as addictive today as it was back when I started out.
How has your job affected or changed your lifestyle? I am so grateful that as a young adult I discovered the nonprofit sector. Choosing a nonprofit fundraising career has allowed me to be involved in countless programs that have a positive impact on my community. I have met and worked closely with people who look different from me, living lives completely different from mine, but we are able to come together for the good of the community. The people I have met inspire me to get up every morning and keep doing what I can to support their work.
What were the keys to your career advancement? One of the keys to my career advancement in the development field has definitely been my involvement in AFP. The educational and networking opportunities offered by AFP are among the best available for a development professional. I don’t know of anywhere else that I could have learned what I needed to know in the early years of my career. Now that I’ve been around for a while, I am still learning new things from my AFP colleagues, and getting involved at the board level has offered me leadership opportunities that continue to help me grow, both professionally and personally.
Thank you Julie!
When I attend a training or conference I always find it helpful to consider takeaway items that I can implement when I get back to the office. At the AFP International Conference in Vancouver I came away with five key items.
- Development audit– This topic was discussed during the first session I attended, “Restructuring a Fund Development Office,” presented by Robin Cabral. A development audit is a complex tool that can/should be used when you enter a new organization or you find your department at a crossroads with a need to increase efficiency or even a potential merger of multiple departments/branches. Although development audits were not the main topic of discussion, I left this session wanting to know more. So I plan to pick up a book on the topic. Suggestions?
- Build a “culture of philanthropy”- This seemed to be a hot button phrase as it was used frequently throughout the conference. I talked with my Milwaukee colleagues about unpacking this idea and this is what I have gathered so far: integrate stories of the beneficiaries that your organization serves into all aspects of your organization, encourage employees from across departments to take an active role in shifting toward this type of business culture, strive to offer board members a variety of options for supporting fundraising efforts and consider the customer service your office provides to the general public as well as the physical appearance of your facility starting from the street level.
- Figure out what you want and go “sell it”- Scott Harrison, the Founder & President of Charity:Water, really knocked this one out of the park during his presentation. Scott is a great speaker and a truly innovative fundraiser. Key ideas from his presentation were that donors and the general public need to be able to visualize the need and link your programs to tangible results. At my office we always struggle with spending money on advertising. What Scott demonstrated was that if you have a great idea for how to make your mission stand out in the public you should develop that idea and go “sell it” to a sponsor. Check out Charity:Water on the web for some great ideas.
- Don’t provide sponsorship levels– I know I am guilty of this! In the session on Monday “Peer Insights into Attracting and Retaining Corporate Partnerships,” I learned from the panel discussion not to provide multiple sponsorship levels for potential high-level donors. Ultimately they will pick the lowest level and/or pick and choose items from the various levels. Instead consider putting together a ‘concept document’ that you use to develop a package that helps both you and your sponsor achieve your respective goals. I am sure it is more work in the long run but it sounds like a much better approach.
- Put the beneficiaries of your program front and center– I think this is easier said than done, at least in organizations that have multiple departments. I discovered that at my office I need to find ways to integrate the families and children that we serve into everything that we do, from children designing the centerpieces for our annual event to capturing our families’ stories after they move into their new homes. There are so many milestones they reach throughout their experience and capturing details related to each achievement can be a bit of a challenge. I came away from the conference with the motivation to find ways to build this into our organization operations.
Those are my takeaways from the AFP International Conference. I hope a little of what I have l shared sparks new ideas for you or helps you with the challenges you have encountered within your operations and fundraising efforts. I am always interested in new resources and ideas, so please feel free to send them my way. Finally, thank you to the AFP Greater Milwaukee Chapter and AFP International for providing me the Chamberlain Scholarship and the opportunity to attend this great conference.
Development Director, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity