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Humans of Fundraising: Carlisa Brown

“When things seem their hardest and we’re faced with challenges, this is when we should maintain focus and not lose sight of our goals or the overall big picture.”

Carlisa Brown
Chief Advancement Officer, The Salvation Army, Massachusetts Division

In the midst of everything that has transpired over the past year, a silver lining has been my belief that we are not alone: that despite this pandemic, we will do more than survive; we will thrive. Because we support one another, celebrate our differences, and care about something much bigger than ourselves. To me, this means that humanity is worth saving, worth believing in.

For many years, I worked in the advertising and marketing world, when almost two decades ago, a friend and mentor asked if I would consider taking a fundraising role at my alma mater, Boston College.

At first, I was hesitant. But then I thought about all that I experienced inside and outside the classroom, the people I met, and the lifelong friendships that I made, which helped shape me into the person I am today. The opportunity to attend Boston College was made possible by the scholarships I received. And as I looked back on those memories fondly, I knew that as a fundraiser, I would be able to help students like myself by raising scholarship support.

As my career progressed, and now as Chief Advancement Officer at The Salvation Army, Massachusetts Division, I tell my team the same things I tell myself during tough times: to never give up, and to have faith that things will work out for the best. When things seem their hardest and we’re faced with challenges, this is when we should maintain focus and not lose sight of our goals or the overall big picture. It’s a real-time test of my personal mantra: to challenge myself in a positive way; to always say what I mean and mean what I say; and to be the voice for those who don’t have one by being my best possible self.

My being a science fiction fanatic might come as a surprise to some, but I’m not quite sure why. I realize that my love for the medium relates to being a person who looks to the future. I am a celebrated dreamer, and believe we can all achieve the impossible with faith, confidence, and a solid plan and strategy.

There are tough times and tests, but there are also triumphs. My first triumph is being a mother raising my son, teaching him that he is more than just his skin color. He is a talented, smart, vibrant, funny, and loving person with an amazing heart. And as I look at him, I feel blessed to be his mom and raise a son with integrity, love, and humility.

My second triumph is the opportunity to lead a team of amazing advancement professionals at The Salvation Army. With all that has happened this past year with the pandemic, it has certainly tested my ability as a leader to ensure clear direction, set achievable goals, provide support, encourage opportunities for collaboration and partnership, and recognize success.

Through this experience, I am most proud that in an extremely saturated nonprofit landscape, we have increased awareness and increased support for our work in meeting the needs of individuals, children, and families hit hardest by COVID-19. This professional work gives me a sense of pride to be able to make a difference.