Meet Our Award Winners: Matthew Bregman
Why did you choose fundraising as a career: Like most fundraisers, I fell into it. The nonprofit I worked for 20 years ago needed money, and we couldn’t afford to hire this thing called a “development director” because they demanded obscenely high salaries in the area of $35,000. So I volunteered to take on that responsibility, at a significantly lower salary, and then scrambled to figure out how to do it. What I quickly realized was that I loved pursuing money — I think that’s human nature. And I’ve never gotten tired of the thrill of finding the money to make important work possible.
Your greatest fundraising challenges: The biggest hurdle is moving from the process of asking for money to the process of orchestrating others to ask for money. Asking for money directly — whether it’s of foundations or corporations or through direct-response mechanisms — is relatively easy. (Getting the money isn’t easy, but asking is.) But building a team of volunteers who will enthusiastically and assertively seek new gifts requires a careful balance of patience and diligence.
Keys to success (in life): For me, the main keys are: 1) knowing what you really want; and 2) making the proactive decision to go get it, even when no one is encouraging, let alone inviting, you to do so. Andy Warhol said, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” For most of us, you have to do everything yourself.
Keys to success (in fundraising): Fundraising is a mirror of life. The main key is to raise money for a cause truly worthy of support. Then we have to figure out how to make it fun and fulfilling for donors to participate. And we have to do it all in a highly energized, organized and business-like manner.