Nonprofit Education

Union Tribune Article: Passion Key for Fundraising Careers

There was a wonderful article in the Union Tribune about me by Henry DeVries. Check it out below or here.


Many fundraisers feel that having an inadequate number of staff members who know how to garner donations is a key internal challenge holding their non-profit organization back from making more impact, according to a national survey of fundraisers.

A 2012 Web poll from the Association of Fundraising Professionals described the challenges of raising money in a down economy.

Along with inadequate staffing, another top concern among respondents was that their board members do not have sufficient understanding of or involvement in the fundraising process. Many fundraisers view board support as critical to their efforts of outreach and relationship-building with donors as they work to clearly articulate the organization’s strategic vision connecting donations with community impact.

“It’s tough out there,” admits fundraising consultant, Renee Herrell.  “Many nonprofits have lost significant amounts of funding as large, single sources of funding were suddenly gone.  But it’s not always a bad thing.  Nonprofits will now have to work hard to stay in touch with their individual donors.  They’ll be forced to develop even more transparency than they’ve ever had before.  But, despite economics, those with wealth are still philanthropic and if you can connect with them, there will be funding.”

Herrell believes returning to school for her certificate in Fundraising and Development was a turning point in her career.

“The education helps a lot,” says Herrell, a former UC San Diego Extension student-turned faculty member. “Fundraising and development classes weren’t offered until the 1990’s. Previously, the knowledge of how nonprofits acquired their funding was typically obtained through on-the-job experience.”

This career path made attending UC San Diego Extension for a Certificate in Fundraising and Development a no-brainer for Herrell. After UC San Diego, Herrell went on to get a master’s in nonprofit management and leadership from the University of San Diego in 2006 and became a Certified Fund Raising Executive in 2008. 

Despite her continuing education, the road to fundraising success has not always been easy.  Herrell had what she calls a “bittersweet moment” at the end of 2008 when she was forced to close the nonprofit she established in 2003, the San Diego Women Film Foundation – a nonprofit established to promote women making film through an annual film festival and educate young women in the technical skills of filmmaking through after school programs.  “It was a great learning experience to start something that I was passionate about, serve in it and then ultimately close it.  Sometimes no matter what you do, it’s just time.” 

Herrell also offers nonprofits expertise through her company, RCH Consulting, Inc.  She’s helped numerous nonprofits with their donor development, fundraising initiatives, feasibility studies, capital campaigns and strategic planning. 

“If you believe wholeheartedly in your cause as a fundraiser, that authentic passion shows through to your donors,” advises Herrell. “Add to that passion, the skills and tools learned through UC San Diego’s Certificate in Fundraising and Development, you will be very successful in the nonprofit sector.

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