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Humans of Fundraising: Karen Beavor

“My job is to listen and be responsive, but also to understand our ‘North Star’ and make the best next step toward that despite many pressures to do something else.”

Karen Beavor
President and CEO, Georgia Center for Nonprofits

I am interested in systems change and social enterprise, and my role as President and CEO of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits offers me the ability to work on large systemic issues that impact the effectiveness and capacity of the nonprofit sector.

With a mission to serve, strengthen, and support Georgia’s nonprofit community, GCN is also a solutions builder, not just a service provider. We are constantly looking for opportunities to create innovative solutions that respond to industry trends now and in the future. This has resulted in a number of social enterprises which are interesting and keep me creatively engaged. I also love the people who work in nonprofits.  They are truly amazing, tremendously smart, and committed. It’s very inspiring to work around people like that.

That is all the more evident now, as I find that nonprofits are working together more collaboratively than ever. There are so many examples of agencies pulling together to meet incredible demand. Also, I believe that the COVID-19 crisis allowed donors to sort of reset how they think about their own operational constructs and constraints. We experienced more collaborative efforts among donors themselves, and more willingness to simply give operational funds. We hope this continues!

This reminds me of an experience during the last recession, and something I consider a professional triumph: starting Georgia Gives Day. Within a six-month time frame, we built a website, recruited and built profiles for more than 1,500 nonprofits, developed a media campaign with three professionally produced commercials and radio spots, recruited more than 40 TV and radio stations to play them at no cost, and taught hundreds of nonprofits to use social media  to crowdfund (a newer concept back then). That effort is still going, and we have raised more than $60m in general operating funds for area nonprofits. And, we have engaged thousands of donors in supporting that work and learning more about the impact nonprofits have on their lives every day.

My personal philosophy is to know what really matters and to work hard on it. And that when I am faced with difficult circumstances, the best thing I can do is to simply take the next best step.

It is easy to be confused by changing external dynamics or even the many influences from internal teams.  My job is to listen and be responsive, but also to understand our ‘North Star’ and make the best next step toward that despite many pressures to do something else. Being unclear strategically can lead to taking actions that may drive short term gains at the expense of long-term impact. Knowing what matters and helping a team take the next best step toward that is a very important role of a leader.