by Matt Kupec
November 9, 2018
I am a fundraiser. That’s right – I have spent year after year asking people to consider making a philanthropic gift to the organization I was representing! Hmm, you might think, that would be a pretty difficult and tough job?
Fundraising is a career that has brought my incredible joy and fulfillment. I have worked for incredible organizations that are doing really important work. The results of the fundraising success have helped transform the lives of thousands and thousands of people along the journey!
When I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill I promised to myself that I would never take a sales job. The thought of asking somebody to buy something from me was the last thing I wanted to do in my career! The thought of having to ask somebody to buy a product was a definite and absolute non-starter!
So what did I do? I managed to spend my entire career not in traditional sales but in the fundraising space as a salesperson advocating on behalf of some great causes.
What happened and what made me change my mind?
After an unsuccessful stint in professional football, I got my break when the University of Bridgeport hired me in their alumni relations & giving department. It is there that I truly fell in love with the concept of higher education and the role it plays in our society. Asking people to support UB was easy and a career fundraiser was born!
I’ve been fortunate to work for amazing institutions. Places like UNC-Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, HelpMeSee, Inc., and the Moffitt Cancer Center. All places had their own magic which appealed to the many different and diverse constituents of these organizations. All were making a difference!
So why do I love fundraising so much as a career? Here are a few of the reasons why I think fundraising is one of the best professions in this country:
- Impact. There is nothing more satisfying than to see the impact philanthropic gifts have on an institution. It could be scholarships, faculty support, program support or many other types of support. Philanthropy plays a key role in advancing an organization’s ability to meet its mission and providing a public good
- Relationships. One of the great rewards in fundraising is the relationships you build with donors. You spend a great deal of time with donors, getting to them, learning everything about them, laughing, working together and sharing a vision of the possibilities of making something happen. Many donors have become great friends.
- Teamwork. I have always enjoyed being part of a team. It started with being one of seven children in a very loving family home environment. It continued on to the sports world where I was the leader of football, basketball and baseball teams throughout my life. And then it carried over into the business world as I have been a fundraising leader of development shops throughout my career. I fully understand the importance of collaboration and collegiately to build a team fundraising approach and it has generated significant fundraising results.
- People Are Generally Good. Another big takeaways for me in fundraising has been to see how good people are. We live in a country where people really want to make a difference and provide opportunities for future generations. The non-profit space seems to bring together people in ways that we don’t see enough in today’s world. I can attest to the fact that people are generally good and decent folks!
- Dedicated and Committed Colleagues. I continue to be so amazed by the commitment and dedication of my colleagues at the organizations I have represented. The tireless, unselfish and caring way that my colleagues go about their business is something that makes me so proud to be part of.
Fundraising has been an incredible career for me. Little do I know that I when I stepped into this space that I would so richly rewarded with the opportunity to work with so many talented, gifted and caring people. Together we have impacted the lives of thousands and we have truly made a difference. Yes, I am glad I chose a career in the fundraising sales space!