The Goldie Company

Parley: September 2007 - One on One with Professional Fundraiser Jim Watson

Current Position: Professional Fundraiser

Career and lifetime highlights:

Managed and supervised numerous capital fundraising campaigns, worked with all types of not-for-profit organizations in helping them reach their goals. Also worked for 25 years in the broadcast Communications business (radio & television). Chaired the Rick Hansen Man In Motion

World Tour, raised $25,000,000 – Continued as a Director on the Rick Hansen Foundation Board for 20 years. Was elected National President of the Association of Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs of Canada and awarded a Life Membership in the Association. Currently an Active Rotarian.


How many years have you been involved in fundraising?

17 years professionally – all my life as a volunteer.

Why are you involved in fundraising?

The satisfaction of helping charitable organizations reach their goals and objectives and helping those most in need.

In your opinion, what has been the biggest influence or change in the fundraising profession since you started your career?

The growing professionalism that has taken a number of years to attain, and there is still a long way to go…..but good progress has been made in raising the level of professionalism in the ‘trade.’

What most concerns you about the fundraising profession?

Saturation….The huge cutbacks in financial aid and services being ‘downloaded’ to the non-profit organizations is creating huge needs – and the charitable dollars are being ‘carved up’ substantially. There are hundreds of very worthwhile organizations who are not able to make ends meet without support from government agencies and/or able to hire professional fundraisers to help them remain viable alternatives.

If you could change one thing about the fundraising profession, what would it be?

I’d like to see more philanthropic education and training done in the junior and senior high schools to help make more young people aware of the “We” not “Me” generational thinking. … and expand this involvement into expanding the post-secondary education possibilities to have more young people enter into the profession better prepared.

In your opinion, are donors different today, making “the ask” more strategic or different and affecting how you prepare and conduct your work?

Much more sophisticated approaches are necessary. There are always more ‘strings attached’ to significant gifts, and many CRA-Tax challenges. There are more and more professional companies making major gift approaches, and the donors are getting a little overcome with the number of ‘prepared asks’ taking place. Also, the tremendous increase in planned giving opportunities requires substantially more preparation and marketing skills.

What is your motto?

Get er’ Done!

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?

That there are a great number of philanthropic people out there with money to give away – they just need to be asked.

What has been your most memorable experience as a fundraiser?

Probably working so close with Rick Hansen and helping orchestrate a number of major gifts, grants and donations to his foundation…. And completing a number of capital campaigns and reaching goal.

If you could start your career over again, what, if anything would you do differently?

Probably not much of anything, except possibly upgrade knowledge of more financial planning skills to deal with ‘specialized gifting.’

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?

I would think Rick Hansen.

Who is your favourite historical figure?

Winston Churchill.

What do you hope to do that you haven’t done yet?