856. A Day in the Life–What's It Really Like to Be a Professional Fundraising Consultant?
Benjamin R. Case is a professional fundraising consultant, who has served in the nonprofit sector for 41 years. He has personally been involved in the successful solicitation of over $1.1 billion in gifts and worked for and been engaged by organizations that have raised $4.8 billion. His fundraising experience includes working with The Metropolitan Opera in NY, Duke University and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, among others. He recently launched an online learning webinar “The Daily Dozen: Habits of Highly Successful Fundraisers.” He is the CEO of Focused on Fundraising, Inc. and the author of 21 Tips for Highly Successful Fundraisers, an international best-seller.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“There are two major turning points for me, and they both occurred when I was 24—one is personal and the other more professional. Two years after I graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC, I was contacted by the admissions director, who offered me a job as the number two person in admissions. I was very interested because, while I grew up in Washington, DC, I missed the small town environment of Salisbury. The next day I got a call from the fellow who ran development who wanted me to be his number two man and start something called a ‘planned giving program.’ I had no idea what that was, but the development job paid $1,000 more a year than the admissions job did. So for a meager $1,000 a year, $83 a month, I picked fundraising over admissions and I have built my entire career in the fundraising space from that day forward!
“The next transformative turning point happened six months later when I was diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia and told I had only a few months to live. With that devastating news, I got very serious about my life, my relationships with my family and my faith in God. About a year later I married the best woman in the world. That whole experience brought a humility to my life that I had not had before and helped me in my service to others and certainly to God.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
There are a few basic thoughts I’ll share with people who are interested in entering this occupation:
- The basic skill sets vital to success in this field are people, communication and organizational skills.
- Emotional intelligence is the lynchpin to people skills, and the good news is that it can be learned via study and training if it is not innate.
- Having a leadership background is a plus because those roles demand that you have to be decisive in your decision making and then take action on those decisions.
- Having an entrepreneurial bent is also an advantage because in many ways when you are fundraising you are running your own business, finding solutions to complex issues and making things happen.
- You have to manage yourself well—all dimensions of yourself—spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical and social.
- To be your best self, you’ve got to be healthy. It took me a long while to learn this, but now I understand how essential it is for your work and your personal life to eat right, even on the road, get plenty of rest and do some kind of regular exercise, as simple as walking regularly.
On His Bookshelf
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman
21 Tips for Highly Successful Fundraising, by Benjamin R. Case
Connecting With Benjamin Case
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Careers: Fundraiser, Professional Fundraiser Consultant