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Meet the Gen Y fundraisers

publication date: Sep 4, 2013
author/source: Laura Champion & JJ Sandler

Hello Hilborn readers!

Over the next couple of months we (Laura Champion and JJ Sandler) would like to engage you in a discussion among fundraisers at different career levels about the experiences of new fundraisers. We would like to involve all of you in a real conversation about our experiences, and welcome your comments and questions.

Who are we?

First, a couple of introductions:

Laura Champion is a recent graduate of Humber College’s Fundraising and Volunteer Management program. Before enrolling in the program she was a library technician for a couple of years after graduating from the University of Windsor with a B.A. in philosophy. Having completed her internship at Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada, she has just joined West Park Healthcare Centre as Development Specialist on the I CAN campaign. Her goals in life include obtaining her CFRE, becoming a published author and being successful enough on Jeopardy to be brought back for the Tournament of Champions.

JJ Sandler has a bachelor’s degree in international development from the University of Calgary and has completed the Humber College Fundraising and Volunteer Management program. During his internship with Camp Oochigeas, he focused on developing the infrastructure for a major gifts program. JJ is intent on completing his CFRE designation within five years, after which he hopes to earn his CGA credentials. He aspires to one day work for one of the Canadian NHL foundations.

We became friends through the Humber College program and quickly discovered our combined ambition in life was formidable. Once classes had ended, we started to brainstorm ways to help us advance professionally while contributing to the philanthropic discussion. We decided to share our experiences and engage an audience with our decision-making process.  We felt these articles would be the most interesting medium because it would allow for the reader to make comparisons between us and themselves as well as allow for an ongoing discussion.

Why you and we need to talk

The format of the articles will be simple - we will use personal anecdotes that are relevant to others, and break down the learnings from those episodes. The advice will be for two audiences: others in our generation (the Millennials); and Boomers, or the “upperclassmen” in our profession. Too often, each group has no idea what the other is thinking. While protecting privacy and confidentiality, we will write the articles in the first person and add details from both of our experiences in an effort to build understanding between new fundraisers and upperclassmen. We invite you to keep the dialogue going with us via twitter (@charitablelaura and @j_s_believe) or email (

We both firmly believe that mistakes are not always negative and can often be transformed into opportunities if you are willing to learn from them. With that in mind we would like to prevent others from making the same mistakes and offer ideas and strategies for getting to where you want to be.

Opening doors

To our fellow Gen Ys – keep your head down and continue to do as much fundraising and related activities as you can. Write, volunteer, and attend networking and professional development events. Do not be afraid to stick your neck out there and become part of the conversation. You never know who might answer back.

Opening minds

To the Boomers, we will do our best to represent your generation in this series and give a fair and balanced point of view. We ask that you engage with us and share more of your viewpoint as this series progresses. We also ask that you give us a chance, please. We, as a generation, are stuck in the limbo position of needing the experience to get hired but never getting the experience because we cannot get hired. Much like the extracurricular activities we did in high school to get into the university we desired, we now are doing everything we can to prove ourselves.

We look forward to having this conversation with each of you and are excited to present the slipups and successes of new fundraisers. Next, on September 19, Can volunteering build a career path?

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