Meet Our Award Winners!
Tracey Van Hook
Director of development
Foundation for Excellence in Education (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Organization’s mission: To identify, quantify, reward and foster replication of excellence in education.
How much raised annually: We are in our first year, so no numbers available annually.
Role models: As entrepreneurs and founders of Tate’s School of Discovery, a private school for children from preschool to fifth grade, my parents are my most significant role models. They taught me to value honesty, integrity and the importance of education.
Why did you choose fundraising as a career: It was a great way to impact positive change in our world.
Keys to success (in life): It is vitally important to value each person that enters your life. Each has a lesson and will contribute to your personal growth and the
Fundraising accomplishment of which you are most proud: In October 2006 (on a volunteer basis), I brought together 50 Humane Societies from Florida for the inaugural Humane Society Appreciation Reception & Conference hosted by former Gov. Jeb Bush and first lady Columba Bush at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, Fla.
How would your co-workers describe you: Organized and fun.
Greatest lesson ever learned: If you enjoy what you do, blessings will follow.
Other thoughts on fundraising: I encourage others who enjoy working with people and have a passion to change the world to consider a career in fundraising. Often, we are limited not by our ideas, but by available funds. As a fundraiser, you have the opportunity to empower donors and impact change.
Annual giving coordinator
BETA Center (Orlando, Fla.)
Organization’s mission: To give our community’s children and parents the knowledge and support needed to build strong and healthy families.
Annual operating budget: $3.07 million
How much raised annually: $2.67 million
Role models: Mom taught me what it means to be generous. She’s the person about whom I’ve always thought, “That’s who I want to be like!”
Why did you choose fundraising as a career: I applied for an internship at the Kennedy Center. When they asked me if I was interested in a fundraising position, I imagined myself making cold calls during dinner, selling cookies door to door and ringing a bell outside the grocery store. [But] all of my preconceived notions about fundraising were annihilated. I discovered how challenging it is to come up with strategies, how delightful it is to talk to donors and how rewarding it is to create win-win situations for donors and organizations. I was hooked!
Greatest fundraising challenges: There is so much competition for the donor’s attention. People are bombarded with media messages, and donors are experiencing information overload. It is more difficult — and more important — than ever to break through the clutter, capture the donor’s imagination, and provide compelling information about the organization and mission.
Keys to success (in fundraising): Treating people as people and not as merely a source of money. Listening to people. Really listening. You can’t fake listening — even children can tell if it’s real.
Keys to success (in life): I say thank you as often as possible because I really do value the support of others.
Fundraising accomplishment of which you are most proud: The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood was in the middle of a public-relations crisis dealing with art censorship. I represented the center at a city council meeting. After I spoke, the mayor said, “Usually I write my own speeches, but if I decide to run again, I might hire you to write them.”
How would your co-workers describe you: Dogged perseverance, razor-sharp focus and a good sense of humor.
Greatest lesson ever learned: You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you react to it.
Personal philosophy: If you’re going to look back at this and laugh, you might as well laugh now.