Where Are They Now? Georgia Clarke
In past issues of Parley, we’ve proudly celebrated recipients of the Kevin Allen Scholarship for Student Excellence in Fundraising: Lindsay McIver (2012) and Kathleen Cymek (2013). The scholarship, established in memory of passionate fundraiser Kevin Allen, awards one Humber College student who embodies his generous spirit and shows great promise in the field.
This month, we checked in with the award’s first-ever recipient, Georgia Clarke, and learned why she chose fundraising, how her career has flourished since completing the program, and what she sees herself doing next.
You won the Kevin Allen Scholarship in 2010. What brought you to Humber College for the Fundraising and Volunteer Management program?
I had been working as a receptionist at the University of Western Ontario but really wanted to get into the non-profit world; I wanted to wake up every day and do something that mattered. I wanted to be proud of my job. That seems to be common among fundraisers.
But it wasn’t easy to find a job in the sector, even with two degrees. When I saw the program at Humber, I knew it was my opportunity.
So you left your full-time job to become a fundraiser?
Yes. I had a job, a steady salary, an apartment. I had a whole life in London, but I made the decision to leave it, make the big move to Toronto, and go back to school.
That can’t have been easy.
A lot of people who are getting into fundraising have given up jobs to go back to school. It’s not easy at all—I was destitute by the middle of the school year! When the scholarship came up, I wrote an honest application. It was worth the appeal. The job success rate is high after completing school. It’s a great field if you can stick it out, and the scholarship helped a lot.
Where did you land after school?
After Humber, I filled an extended maternity leave position at WWF-Canada as planned giving officer. After a year and a half, I took a job at St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation as a major gifts assistant. I’ve always wanted to work for a hospital. It’s easy to feel passionate about raising money for health and wellness.
What do you love most about your job?
Well, we’re bringing in money for a great cause. It’s also great to have a profession that requires specialized skills and a clear career path in a field that is meaningful for me. This field has lots of opportunities to get involved and it’s a good community of peers. When people ask me what I do, I’m always proud to say I’m a fundraiser.
What’s next for you, Georgia? Will you stay in fundraising?
For now, I’m happy in major gifts. Working in a big shop is a great learning experience. In the future, I see myself becoming a major gifts officer or working in planned giving. Eventually, I’d like to work on my CFRE. It’s an important certification if you’re going to stay in fundraising for the long term, and I don’t ever imagine myself leaving fundraising.
One last question: What are a few things the Humber program taught you that you’ve applied in your career?
Oh, lots! How to work with Raiser’s Edge, learning the concept of moves management, how to interact with board members, effective stewardship and networking practices… I use almost everything that we learned. It’s a tough but fabulous program.