Meet Our Award Winners!
Major gifts manager
WaterPartners International (Kansas City, Mo.)
Organization’s mission: WaterPartners International is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. Working in partnership with donors and local communities, WaterPartners has helped hundreds of communities in eight countries develop access to safe, sustainable water supplies. WaterPartners not only offers traditional, grant-funded programs, but also is harnessing the power of microfinance to address the world water crisis in a new and innovative way.
Annual operating budget: $3.2 million
How much raised annually: $3.2 million in FY 2007
Role models: WaterPartners donors — I am inspired daily by their success, generosity, compassion, humanity and willingness to take action to ensure that this world is a better place for people they most likely will never meet — and the women who paved the way for me in fundraising by proving that women can aggressively negotiate, ask, exceed fundraising goals and perform as top-level executive fundraisers.
Why did you choose fundraising as a career: To help women and girls, in the U.S. and globally, have greater opportunities for education, health, empowerment, financial independence and equality.
Greatest fundraising challenges: Managing an international donor base.
Challenges facing fundraisers in general: There are too many nonprofits doing the same thing, competing for dollars. Instead of creating new ones, we should work toward capacity-building those with proven models for success.
Keys to success (in fundraising): Focus on and listen to what your donors need and want. Keep your promises to them. Realize that you are privileged to be a liaison who brings about powerful partnerships that provide the donor with a once-in-a-lifetime experience while also serving people who need their help.
Keys to success (in life): Set high standards. Practice kindness. Be confident. Speak up. Be present in the moment. Be someone who makes things happen.
Fundraising accomplishment of which you are most proud: I am most proud of the relationships I have developed with donors who, partly because of my effort, have become committed, lifetime donors to the organization. These relationships are what made a 91 percent donor retention rate possible for FY 2007.
How would co-workers describe you: Decisive, confident, committed and clear-sighted.
Greatest lesson ever learned: Listen.
Personal philosophy: Life is ephemeral, so make the most of every day.
Other thoughts on fundraising: The significant wage gap that exists for women in the field is something that our profession must address. Pay equity and the persistence of a “glass ceiling” should be a call to action for our profession to compensate and promote talented women at the same rate as their male counterparts.