"Fundraising Chose Me"
Who: Dolores McDonagh, vice president of membership for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Grew up in: North Attleboro, MA.
Education: Graduated from Brown University in 1980 with a degree in American history.
Role model/hero: Benjamin Franklin, who she calls a founding father of direct mail fundraising. “In addition to making his fortune in direct response (Poor Richard’s Almanac), he invented the matching grant concept and the sweepstakes appeal for charities in Philadelphia.”
First job in fundraising: “I wanted to work in preservation, so I took a job as the administrative assistant in the membership department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1983, with every intention of switching to a ‘real’ preservation job. I quickly learned that if there was no money, none of the great work of the organization was possible, so I decided to stay in fundraising.”
Other fundraising positions: After being at the Trust for seven years, she joined the consulting firm of Bachurski Associates Inc., where she worked with clients including the Nature Conservancy, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Brown University. When the opportunity to go “home” to the Trust came up, she jumped on it.
Why she chose fundraising as a career: “Fundraising really chose me. I always knew I wanted to work for a nonprofit, and fundraising — and direct response — turned out to be a great fit. It’s a terrific mix of art and science, and it’s measurable and goal oriented. Also, fundraising is great for people with short attention spans — there’s always something new going on. Finally, it requires that you be really immersed in the program work of the organization, which makes it great for busybodies like me who always want to know everything that’s going on.”
Major responsibilities at the Trust: All of the fundraising and affinity revenue programs for 200,000 members, including direct mail, telemarketing and Internet fundraising. “We also work with our 23 historic sites and with more than 50 state and local preservation organizations to grow our own mem-bership and the preservation movement through partnership programs.”