People cringe when I tell them I’m a fundraiser. “I could never ask for money!” is a common response. In general, people treat fundraising like going to the dentist — they know it’s important, but they avoid it all costs. But, the next time you meet a fundraiser, I encourage you to dig a little deeper. I love it, and most fundraisers agree — it’s an incredibly rewarding career. Sometimes it’s even fun.
Let me clear up some misconceptions about fundraising.
- I don’t make cold calls. I connect people through our incredible network of existing supporters who are truly passionate about what we do. And, I ask people to take a ton of risk investing in technology, knowing they’ll never meet the children who will be freed from exploitation because of their support.
- I don’t go to fancy dinner parties every night. As a whole, the field is moving away from event-driven fundraising because it’s a huge expense often for very little return.
- And those college kids on the street corner trying to get your attention to donate? They have my utmost respect. It’s the hardest job out there and a reliable revenue stream for many organizations doing work on issues I care about.
No one recruited me into this work. There are no famous development officers, no “development 101” class in college. Actually, I majored in art history (ask me about Netherlandish portraiture in the 1300s) and secretly wove in gender studies. Another part of my story is that I have always had a very real, and very deep feeling about randomness of the human experience. I was born to a very comfortable middle class family in Santa Monica, CA. Some children are born into bonded labor in India. Something about that paradigm has always stirred inside me and has driven my decision making since a young age.
When I found this role at Thorn, it all added up. I was given the opportunity to channel that urgency into actual change, and I’m honored to do it.
I learn from and work alongside a team of smart, driven, and talented people. And I’ve gotten to do some cool things, like meet with Bill Gates, talk to U.S. Senators about the dark web, and meet best in class law enforcement who fly all over the world to rescue children.
So what do I do as a fundraiser?
I connect people with that same desire for justice, and who happen to have resources, with people creating solutions. Together, we make little changes that add up in a big way. So far, our tools have helped to identify 5,684 kids who were being trafficked or sexually abused.
It’s hard work, and there’s more to be done — so much more. But when our team gets the call from the field that a child has been identified and rescued with our tech, there is no better feeling.
Are you ready to be a fundraiser? Let’s get to work.