I’ve spent the last decade+ working (and volunteering) for arts organizations, raising several million dollars in the process and setting up countless administrative and program-tracking systems. Because of my passion for the crafts of writing and editing, I’ve focused mainly on companies that support and provide opportunities for writers—in fact, I’ve found that supporting writers in an administrative capacity is remarkably similar to supporting them in an editorial one!
- Since December 2016, I have served as the assistant to the director of UW Press, where I do a combination of editorial, fundraising, and communications tasks.
- I worked as the administrator for the Northwest Independent Editors Guild from December 2015 to May 2017; I also served on the board of directors in 2014 (as treasurer and head of the operations committee) and 2015 (as president).
- In the fall of 2015, I joined Poetry Northwest as their managing editor; I work on the editorial side (copyediting, etc.) as well as on organizational structure, board development, and the like.
- I cofounded Seattle City of Literature, the organization created to shepherd Seattle’s bid to join UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network as a City of Literature, and from March 2014 to March 2015, I served as its managing director. I was also hired by the Office of Arts & Culture to write Seattle’s 2015 application, which was submitted in July 2015. Unfortunately, UNESCO did not award Seattle a CCN designation in that application cycle; fingers crossed for the next cycle.
- I been volunteered for ten years at the Bureau of Fearless Ideas (formerly 826 Seattle) as a tutor, a writing workshop leader, and an outreach and event production support volunteer; I’ve also worked there on a contract basis on several research projects and on a part-time, interim basis, managing their volunteer program and outreach efforts.
- I worked at Richard Hugo House for four years, ending my tenure as development director.
- I worked at ACT Theatre for three years, ending my tenure as grants manager.
Wanting to write grants is what first brought me to nonprofit arts fundraising; I’ve now written hundreds of applications to foundation, corporate, and government entities and brought in more than one million dollars in grant funding for the arts in Seattle. I love distilling down program descriptions to their most engaging, and matching up funders’ missions with the missions of the organizations I work with. Everybody wins.
I also write nonprofit communications like annual reports (see my 2010, 2011, and 2012 annual reports for Richard Hugo House), fundraising and thank-you letters, internal and external how-to documents, email invitations and updates, auction and special event programs, blog entries, job descriptions, and more on a regular basis.
Other Development Work
Beyond my fundraising-related writing, at Hugo House, I also produced fundraising events like dinner galas, write-a-thons, and local-celebrity spelling bees; managed annual and major donor giving campaigns; and generally threw my support wherever it was needed. I do this all while being efficient, too—when I came to the development position at Hugo House, they had been getting $3.14 for every dollar spent on fundraising. I more than doubled that; by the time I left, we were making $7.89 for every dollars spent on fundraising.
Data Administration & Program Tracking
I have a lot of experience with patron databases, with much of my time spent managing Tessitura, Exceed! (exclamation mark is sic, though I am passionate about databases), and CiviCRM; I have also worked in FileMaker Pro, Access, and Little Green Light. With my MySQL and PHP experience, I understand both the scaffolding the databases are built around as well as ultimate point of the databases themselves—to be able to communicate with your patrons and keep track of their involvement in your org. Anything that doesn’t help you do that you probably don’t need. And what of reporting to those supporters on the work you to do? I’ve been involved in creating systems at multiple organizations to tracking program achievements in a way that is concrete and easily reportable to funders and stakeholders (internal and external), from surveys to spreadsheets to databases. Your mission and your work can be fantastic on paper, but if you can’t prove that you’re making a difference, it’ll be hard to convince others to invest in your efforts.