Making a Difference
By John Brooks, Senior Consultant
27 years ago, I would have never guessed that I would be in the development field and now, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I was fortunate enough to have worked with somebody who mentored and encouraged me to make the move to development work where I could combine the skills I had acquired over my career with my desire to make a difference in the world.
When I started as a development associate at Special Olympics Connecticut back in 1996, several of my friends asked me what I was doing for a living. I excitedly told them all about the fundraising events I helped organize, the meetings with donors, the national conferences I got to attend, the direct mail appeals and telemarketing scripts I helped create and the donor visits I lead at the Summer & Winter Games. They looked at me in a funny way and asked, “But what’s your job?” “That’s your volunteer work, right? Do you get paid to do that?” What other profession do you get to work in where you meet so many great people while at the same time helping to make the world just a little bit better? And right now, the world needs as many of us making a difference as possible!
A global pandemic, climate change, systemic racism, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, immigration, clean air and water, access to affordable health care, human rights and so much more – these are just a few of the most serious issues facing society and we, as fundraisers get to be part of the solution. We are often the conduit to that change. We get to help people make a difference!
I’ve shared this story many times, but it really exemplifies the fundraising profession: I had a donor who I was working with for a few years. The family’s contributions steadily increased as our relationship grew and as they learned more about the impact our organization had on so many people in their community. Each year their contribution increased until one year they doubled their support over the prior year. It was such a powerful moment when I was handed a six-figure check and before I could say a word, the donor said something I didn’t expect – she said, “thank you.”
Imagine, I was handed a huge check and the donor thanked me. They weren’t able to volunteer, serve meals, join an advocacy committee, spend an overnight with our clients through their church or join the board. She thanked me for providing her family with the opportunity to make a difference in a manner most suitable to their situation.
That’s what we do every day. We connect people to the causes that they are passionate about. We help them make a difference.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a statement on my resume under my professional objective that simply says – “To Make a Difference.” I am proud to be in this profession and looking forward to working with Sharon and her team in our shared vision “To Make a Difference.”