PROFILEA Gift for GiftingTwelve years ago, Beth Gentner, CFRE
A Gift for Gifting
Twelve years ago, Beth Gentner, CFRE
By SHARON R. COLE
ProFile: Beth Gentner, CFRE, former director of development for the John Glenn Institute at Ohio State University
Grew up in: Spartanburg, SC. A southerner at heart, she says she's happy to have recently returned to the South to reside in Atlanta.
Fundraising experience: Former director of development for the John Glenn Institute at Ohio State University, where she arrived in time to participate in its landmark $1 billion+ capital campaign and remained for five very successful years. She also was a regional major-gifts officer and managed both annual fund programs, as well as prospect-research operations. Prior to her job at Ohio State, she worked in development at the Smithsonian Institution for seven years.
Education: Graduated from Duke University with a bachelor of arts degree in art history in 1991.
Role models: Her grandparents. She says she is grateful they taught her strong values from the 1930s and 1940s.
Why she chose fundraising as a career: "My third internship in college was in the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Development," she says. "I quickly knew that this field was a good match for my skill set and personality."
Major responsibilities at Ohio State: Developing and implementing a fundraising plan, soliciting six- and seven-figure gifts from a national group of prospects, planning a capital campaign, and effectively managing staff and volunteers. One of her last assignments at Ohio State involved creating a development operation for a new project, which included a lot of prospect identification and evaluation as well as external-affairs responsibilities.
Future job pursuits: To bring her fundraising expertise to the advancement of healthcare philanthropy or higher education.
Greatest fundraising challenges: Patience, especially in the current economy. Gentner says that waiting for an economic rebound that will empower donors to make major financial decisions is greatly testing the patience of those in fundraising.
Keys to success: Tenacity and the ability to listen. "I have a card at my desk that reads, 'If you can read this, you are not out calling on a major donor.' I picked this up at the Institute for Charitable Giving many years ago," Gentner says.
Management philosophy: Developing staff and helping them achieve their professional goals.
How she keeps fundraising fresh: Gentner says she finds that serving as a presenter at development conferences provides opportunities to continue her fundraising education. "The audience always contributes new perspectives and strategies," she explains.
Fundraising project of which she is most proud: Helping to make U.S. Sen. John Glenn's dream — to strengthen interest in public service — a reality. Five years ago, she set up a development office in Ohio to secure private support to fulfill this vision. She was proud to assist the donors who wanted to ensure that Glenn's legacy and his commitment to the future of democracy will endure.
How she thinks those close to her would describe her: Someone with an incredible work ethic who is poised, diplomatic and unbelievably organized.
Sharon R. Cole is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer.