Looking back over a period of more than 30 years, I take great satisfaction in the variety of work that I’ve done for non-profit organizations as well as the variety of the organizations themselves. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I worked in the “goodness business” – a $300+ billion industry built on the quaint idea that most people are good and that they want to do good. My job has most often been to help people accomplish good things. That remains my primary focus at Rafferty Communications Strategies.
My start in the goodness business came in 1981 at the Boston affiliate of United Cerebral Palsy where I was the one-man fundraising department. It was on-the-job training just about every day and it taught me to value the interconnections between and among the full spectrum of fundraising activity from volunteer-driven phonations and corporate sponsored special events to grant proposals and major gift solicitations.
After that beginning at UCP, I spent 15+ years at three of Boston’s premier medical centers – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Tufts Medical Center – where I learned that I had skills scientists and clinicians needed. After listening to them describe their complex research, I could tell their “stories” to prospective donors. In the process, I gained their confidence that I would get those stories right.
Meanwhile, the Jack-of-all-trades experience I earned at UCP continued to be valuable as I continued to pick up new skills and expertise rooted in understanding each individual’s goals for their generosity. Those skills included prospect research, donor cultivation and stewardship. I learned the techniques of Moves Management and the robust tools available on Raiser’s Edge. I even became fluent in the arcane language of Financial Accounting Standards — which, it turns out, is critical to effective donor stewardship.
My love of story-telling brought new opportunities my way. I’ve written magazine articles for Harvard Medical School and Boston College School of Nursing as well as for esperanza, a quarterly magazine on mental health. I’ve also mastered the “short form” writing required for life in the digital age, including website text and design, on-line solicitations for funds, tightly written profiles and weekly blog postings.
There has been another exceptionally valuable fringe benefit to my consulting and freelance career. That work has introduced me to a satisfying variety of issues, challenges and opportunities. Most of the assignments have engaged me in missions and organizations I might never have otherwise known about: Longy School of Music; the Bostonian Society/Old State House; the International Society for Infectious Diseases; and Boston Public Schools.
In addition, I have been privileged to work with individuals dedicated to serving the homeless, combating drug addiction and welcoming immigrants and refugees. I continue to look forward to working with – and learning from – similar people doing good.