Well now it has been a minute, friends, colleagues and other readers for whom I am grateful. It feels good to glide fingers along keyboard keys again.
I am so glad to shut both the front and back doors on 2016.
Goodbye, Old Bad. Hello, New Good.
In a concerted effort to make the first few days of 2017 better (and productive), I’m looking forward to all the learning opportunities already planned for the first half of my year. I’d like to share them with you, in part, to keep my plans on track and perhaps to inspire your personal development efforts.
There seems to be one common thread that unites all the lectures, events and conferences on this upcoming learning journey: WOMEN!
(You are smart, so you may have already guessed as much.)
What more is there to learn? Are we so damn difficult to figure out? Why women?
It’s simple: to combat complacency.
I resolve to keep practising what (or more pointedly, who) I preach – women donors and funding prospects, because they are potentially forgettable. You read me correctly; women donors could be forgettable. For example:
- The gift from her estate is now settled and, to be honest, we didn’t really know her while she was alive. . .
- She volunteered here? Where is that logged?
- The donation cheque had both Mr and Mrs Smith’s names on it, but only one gets full (i.e. hard) credit in the database. Who do you think defaults to primary donor in this situation?
OK, I digress slightly. This post is really a small compilation of the learning road ahead to grow my knowledge of women donors and prospects and to celebrate the positive and varied ways they (we) contribute to the philanthropic sector.
“Educate Women and Their Community Will Prosper.”
To begin, in January, I registered for a seminar entitled Women and the World, led by lawyer and educator Susan Bazilli. While this seminar is hosted by a female-led financial planning outfit, the topic is about women’s rights, specifically progress made in this area and what more needs to be done. I’m not 100% sure what to expect from this seminar, but am looking forward to an informed discussion.
Of course, during the Presidential Inauguration, I will drink (heavily!) with a fellow political junkie Maureen, so we will see you at The Morrissey.
In February, I am volunteering at a gala event hosted by the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs BC. Rather than just read about their accomplishments in local media, I’m hoping to meet (or merely observe) some of my city’s finest women business leaders in real life.
Perhaps someone in that room is the next advisory committee member or board director or major donor for my own organization?
The evening includes live pitches by these women entrepreneurs hoping to clinch a $25,000 prize. Before that can happen, someone at the gala needs to check your name at the registration desk and stick a name tag awkwardly on your being.
(Leaning into the discomfort I will, as a wise woman once said.)
March promises to be epic with (another) trip to Chicagoland for a symposium hosted by the progressive Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana. I’m so excited! Having read through most of their Women Give studies, I appreciate and respect the WPI’s work; it provides real evidence about women donors’ behaviour and their impact. The WPI grounded me and other advocates with sound information to make persuasive arguments for engaging women as viable donor prospects in advancing and broadening philanthropy.
Among the BIG goals of this symposium:
- Place women’s philanthropy as central to building civil society and strengthening democracy in the United States. (Timing feels right.)
One session of keen interest will feature the skills required to be a strong woman philanthropic leader in the 21st century. Hearing from fundraising peers and leaders from the ‘Y’ and community foundation movements will also highlight this two-day experience. Wish me luck; reach out if you’d like to hear more; and stay tuned on Twitter: #WomensPhilanthropy.
International Women’s Day is March 8th (hence, epic). While uncertain of my own organization’s plans to commemorate #IWD2017, we have discussed bringing together our medical experts in women’s health with our generous women donors for an informative exchange in a meet-and-greet setting. My part consists of identifying A Few Great Women donors and prospects from our major gifts and annual giving portfolios, who need to be in the room.
In April, I’ll be in Lawrence, Kansas, to deliver a keynote address on women donors at the APRA-MO/KAN conference. I am honoured to attend this chapter’s gathering, knowing its board has worked to be more active and provide meaningful opportunities for its members. I’m hoping to draw on all the wonderful experiences from months prior to inspire and motivate prospect development and fundraising professionals, so we can all engage more women in new and different ways.
Now more than ever, I’m researching determinedly a powerful segment of donor prospects in real life. And enjoying the learning journey ahead. How about you?
The picture is a painting called “Red Cross dropping at Pochella” by James Makuac, a Sudanese artist whose work graced the Nashville airport last summer.