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Career Story: Marketing And Donor Relations Executive For A Non-Profit Fund-Raising Organization

Marketing And Donor Relations Executive For A Non-Profit Fund-Raising Organization

Job Title: Marketing Assistant Vice President

Type of Company: I work for the fund-raising arm of a federally-designated comprehensive national cancer center.

Education: BBA, Business Administration, Roanoke College

Previous Experience: I worked at a public relations, communications and marketing agency for 18 years.

Job Tasks: I am in charge of all the marketing and donor relations for our non-profit fund-raising organization and I oversee 35 staff employees in my departments. On the marketing side, my duties include overseeing everything from t-shirts for fund-raising events to ads to newsletters and magazines to marketing collateral pieces to high-end brochures for individuals of high net worth. On the donor relations side,they include overseeing everything from a donor recognition event to a donor stewardship report to building signage to trustee relations.

The marketing is very much run like a small agency. The donor relations is a support function for the frontline fund-raisers and event managers who work directly with donors. I report to the leader of the fundraising organization, which is important because it cuts through red tape when you can "go right to the top" to get an answer. I sit in on (too many) meetings every day to make sure everyone is doing what they need to do and have the resources they require. I troubleshoot and put out fires. I keep morale high and set the tone and strategic direction for the marketing and donor relations departments. I make sure we follow all company rules and regulations.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are: 1. the people I work with (my staff and everyone at the cancer institute we raise money for); 2. the mission (we raise money to find cures for cancer).

I get up every day hoping that what I do brings us closer and closer to a world without cancer.

I really enjoy seeing my staff grow and mature in their roles.

What I don't like is all the meetings and all the rules and regulations.

Job Tips: Be sure to take marketing and sales classes in college. After you graduate, do a few internships (unpaid if you have to). Work in a variety of marketing departments so you get a range of experience. Do as many different aspects of the marketing mix (advertising, PR, direct mail, sales support, etc.) for even more experience. Spend at least 5 years in each job. Make sure you never think that "you know it all" (because you never will, and no one likes a know-it-all). Always be grateful for your opportunities.

Additional Thoughts: You need to be a creative person to excel in marketing. You need to be flexible because something new happens every day. You have to have a good grasp of pop culture and know what's "in" and "hot." You need to understand the media and how it works. You need to understand the differences between groups so you can target them through their ways of thinking and living and not through the way you think and live. You need to know what drives people to make a buying decision (or in my case, make a philanthropic gift). Always like the organization you work for because you will spend a lot of time thinking about it and what it stands for. Oh, and you'll spend a lot of time working there. But if work is fun, it won't matter how much time you spend working. I've found this to be a very, very fulfilling career. And I've been at it for nearly 25 years.

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