Cultivation Crew Recap: Lesley Albanese
On October 2nd, AFF was pleased to host the latest installment of its Cultivation Crew professional development series. Each Cultivation Crew event features a special guest speaker, a great luncheon and plenty of time for Q&A and networking. This month’s meeting was held at the Cato Institute and brought together 30 young professionals working in nonprofit development. Our featured speaker was Lesley Albanese, Vice President for Development at the Cato Institute.
A seasoned development professional, Lesley leads a team of staffers dedicated to sharing the mission of Cato with both longtime and potential sponsors. Lesley spoke to the group for 45 minutes, sharing some background on her career (which included a brief stint in the Cato government affairs department!), answering questions and offering unique insights on how to succeed in a competitive fundraising environment. Her tips are paraphrased below:
Be Dedicated To the Mission: As you might guess, it’s easier and more rewarding to pitch the benefits of an idea or program you believe in. Not only will sponsors be drawn to an earnest spokesperson, but dedication to the mission can also help you keep the daily challenges of your career in perspective: long nights spent planning a development event, for example, will all be worth it when you’re able to support the projects you and your team believe in.
Be Tenacious: Set high goals for yourself and set the standard for those around you. Your superiors will appreciate your ambition and drive while your colleagues will see you as a leader they should work to keep up with.
Be Creative: While much of development is process-oriented, there’s still room for creativity. Distinguish yourself and your organization by delivering your message in a way that sets you apart. At Cato, for example, the development team hosts monthly e-briefings for sponsors where they are able to interact directly with a Cato policy expert. Find your organization’s strengths and create a unique opportunity to engage your sponsors.
Be Tough: Rejection will always be a part of outreach and it’s important to learn to not take it personally. You can be the best possible spokesperson for your organization and still run into “no” on a regular basis. Look at rejection as an opportunity to refine your pitch, and as a catalyst for the creativity and tenacity mentioned above.
Interested in learning more about AFF’s professional development programs? Check out our Upcoming Events page for an event near you and then head to our Join Now page to learn about the career-building perks of AFF membership!
Heather A. Curry is an advisor for America’s Future Foundation.
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