Meet Our Award Winners: Missy Ryan
In our February issue, Fundraising Success named the winners of our 2010 Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards. In this recurring "Meet Our Award Winners" series in the Advisor, you will have an opportunity to learn more about these distinguished nonprofit professionals and their unique perspectives on fundraising. Here, meet Missy Ryan, who was named one of this year's Fundraising Stars.
Senior director of development
College of Business and Behavioral Science at Clemson University (Clemson, S.C.)
Your organization's mission: The mission of Clemson University is to fulfill the covenant between its founder and the people of South Carolina to establish a "high seminary of learning" through its historical land-grant responsibilities of teaching, research and extended public service.
Annual operating budget: $400+ million for the university.
How much raised annually: As a university, $42+ million; within the College of Business and Behavioral Science, $7+ million.
Role models: My mom, who was my first mentor in fundraising; and my Dad, who has guided me in every business decision I have made. I was blessed with the best! Nancy Peterman, vice president of development at Georgia State University, who has inspired me and mentored me for the past seven years. Cheryl Holland, president of Abacus Financial Planning, who is teaching me all the time how to be a more innovative manager and the joy of being a lifelong learner.
Why did you choose fundraising as a career: When I was in high school, I was a "serial" volunteer, and then I graduated from college and realized I could make a living helping nonprofit organizations and doing something I loved.
Greatest fundraising challenges: Time, time, time....
Keys to success (in life): These are mottos I use in my life:
- I can sleep when I die.
- There is no such word as "no" or I "can't."
- Give your time, talent and treasure, and you will find you get far more back.
- Make time for friends and family above all else.
- Two brains are far better than one.
- Give away all credit because you probably didn't do this on your own.
Keys to success (in fundraising): All the success I have had is because of two key factors: First, the team of professionals who work with me. I believe in hiring the best and then giving them the freedom to be the best. Second, the volunteers who love the organization I work for. My volunteer board members and donors are the real reason for my success. Without their passion, inspiration and generosity, none of this would be possible. They are really the true "fundraising stars." It is my job to make their volunteer job easier! No gift I have been involved in closing has ever been done by me alone. I guess you can say it takes a village!
Fundraising accomplishment of which you are most proud: Mentoring others and seeing their success. If all I do is close gifts and don't teach and support others, then I really haven't truly accomplished much.
How would your co-workers describe you: In one word: energy! I think they would also say, "She doesn't believe the word 'no' exists and she doesn't accept anything but an individual's best!
Greatest lesson ever learned: Life is not always fair and it isn't always easy, but it sure is one amazing ride.