Today's August Appreciation spotlight goes to AFP Utah Chapter member Diane Parisi, Development Director at Pioneer Theatre Company!
Diane has been working as a fundraiser for 27 years, and her first job was with Utah Musical Theatre at Weber State University.
Currently, one of her greatest challenges is working in the nonprofit performing arts, where the business environment is both commercial and philanthropic. "We have to find ways to connect patrons with theatre in a way that helps them see the value beyond the mere investment of a ticket," she explains. "We try to focus on the patron first because it can’t just be about our value to the community, it has to be about our value to that patron."
Diane experiences her greatest sense of accomplishment when she has the opportunity to mentor novice fundraisers. "My own mentor, Patti Choate, had a tremendous influence on me in my early years as a fundraiser. It is very rewarding to witness the professional accomplishments of those I’ve mentored," she says.
When asked why she became a member of AFP Utah Chapter, Diane says, "AFP membership is comprised of so many wonderful and talented people. I value the opportunity to be a part of a professional community where I can commiserate, share ideas, and have 'lightbulb' moments."
AFP Utah Chapter, meet Hannah Whitney, Development Director of HEAL Utah, the latest member to be spotlighted as a part of our August Appreciation Month!
Though Hannah has had an official fundraising-related job for a little less than one year, she previously provided fundraising support, both in a volunteer and paid capacity, for quite a few small organizations. Her first such gig was as the fundraising coordinator for the Western State University of Colorado Mountain Rescue Team in 2003 during her college years. "That's nearly 15 years ago!" she says."
Hannah lists her biggest struggle as understanding the intricacies of HEAL Utah's campaigns in order to write and report about them in grants. "We work on some complicated issues like air quality and renewable energy," she says. "Fortunately we have great organizational communication and regular, well-facilitated meetings, which are helping move me in the right direction."
HEAL Utah recently received a new and unexpected grant that Hannah wrote with the organization's former Executive Director, and she cites this as her greatest recent accomplishment. "It was a somewhat last minute scenario. It showed how we're able to successfully spring into action when opportunities arise!" she explains.
As a new development professional, Hannah decided AFP membership would be an important step to building a network of skilled allies. She adds, "I'm always on board to work smarter, not harder, and I know there are so many helpful resources out there to guide me as a new Development Director."
Our AFP Member Appreciation spotlight today goes to Amberlie Phillips, Chief Development Officer at YWCA!
Amberlie began her career in development in 1999, just out of college, and with the exception of two years, she has worked as a fundraiser her entire career--almost 16 years.
While she is currently navigating the obstacles of building infrastructure within the YWCA Utah development department to increase efficiency and maximize potential, she is also excited to see the continued growth of the YWCA’s major gifts program. "We made a conscious decision to focus on major gifts about four years ago, and we are seeing some amazing gifts as a result of this sustained effort," she says.
When asked why she became an AFP member, Amberlie says,"Very early in my career I attended the AFP International Conference in Seattle, thanks to a supervisor who recommended I attend. It was a great experience that opened my eyes to the diversity and depth that exists within the field. It is wonderful to belong to a professional association dedicated to fundraising-- it allows for idea sharing, networking, and that great feeling of being in a room where everyone feels your pain (or joy!)"
And now for our third member spotlight of August Appreciation Month: Kirk Huffaker of Preservation Utah!
Kirk has served as Executive Director and the staff lead on fundraising for the last ten years, though he's been on staff at Preservation Utah for a total of twenty years. "I realized early in my time at the organization that it's everyone's job on staff be part of the fundraising effort, whether it's making an event successful, writing a grant, or helping in the identification and cultivation of members and donors," he says.
Kirk lists his greatest fundraising-related struggle at the moment as trying to keep the momentum going with Preservation Utah's supporters, who helped the organization (formerly Utah Heritage Foundation) meet big fundraising goals for it's 50th anniversary last year and facilitated a success rebranding campaign.
As for his greatest accomplishments, he says "In my ten years as Executive Director, we've exceeded goals for three fundraising campaigns, and been able to start an endowment. These have provided us with a stronger foundation for continuing to build long-term organizational strength."
"I'm an AFP member because I don't have it figured out and am always seeking how I can get better at my job. At the same time, I'm seeking how to best establish our organizational culture around fundraising. Surrounding yourself with the professional community for networking and peer learning opportunities is one of the strongest ways I believe to put us on the path to what works for us."
AFP Utah Chapter, meet your fellow member Olivia Custodio!
Olivia became the Development Manager at Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC) in February of 2016 after Cynthia Fleming, SLAC's Executive Artistic Director, sought her out. "I'm brand new to the fundraising world!" says Olivia. "[Cynthia] took a chance on me and asked if I would be interested in the position. She definitely saw something in me that I had not seen in myself, and now I am thrilled to be in this position doing non-profit fundraising."
When asked to name her greatest fundraising-related struggle at the moment, she says, "I have learned so much so quickly, and while I feel confident in my abilities, I know that there is much that I don't know yet." She adds, "I'm an AFP member because I am striving to be an accomplished fundraising professional, and I want to surround myself with and grow from the other incredible members in AFP."
Olivia states her greatest accomplishment as the significant increase in contributed income that SLAC has seen this past year with her in the Development Manager position. "It's rewarding to see that all I'm learning is paying off!
August is Member Appreciation Month for AFP Utah Chapter! Every week this month we will highlight a few of our stellar members on our Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook sites. Know someone you think should be featured? Leave us a comment and let us know!
First up: Meet Diane Spencer, Development Officer at West Ridge Academy.
Diane began working in nonprofit fundraising in 1996 and considers her organization's greatest fundraising-related struggle making connections with new potential donors. She is excited to have helped West Ridge Academy pull off its biggest-earnings-ever golf tournament in June.
"I’m an AFP member because it’s the best way I’ve found to stay up to date on trends, challenges and solutions. And fundraisers in Utah are a fabulous group of professionals to be associated with!" says Diane.