Elevate Philanthropy ™

Humans of Fundraising: Pat House

“I foresee a future where the focus of so many to be changemakers in the world, combined with a growing respect for the noble profession of fundraising, will lead to a philanthropic explosion.”

Patricia Burgh House, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President Emerita
Graham-Pelton

At Graham-Pelton, we’ve always professed that humanity depends on philanthropy, and we are not shy about our mission to elevate philanthropy so our nonprofit clients can thrive. I foresee a future where the focus of so many to be changemakers in the world, combined with a growing respect for the noble profession of fundraising, will lead to a philanthropic explosion. Philanthropy will not just be “having a moment” in the coming years but will endure with transformational effect as more empowered nonprofits bring more goodwill to the human race.

It cannot be denied that technology has revolutionized how we approach advancement operations on all levels, and certainly social media has expanded the opportunity for more people of all means to become philanthropists on their own terms. I am also struck by the potential – and growing influence – of women in philanthropy, both from a wealth capacity perspective as donor prospects and as leaders in the nonprofit world.

As I encounter retirement and take stock of my career, it is not lost on me that in my early career days I never ever considered fundraising to be in my future. In fact, as a committed university administrator who dedicated 20 years to enrollment management, I often said Development was one of the last divisions I’d ever consider joining. Like many of the volunteers we encounter, I was guilty of finding fundraising a bit too forward for me. But I found myself taking a position in an alumni relations arena, and eventually, I accepted a donor relations role at a university. To my good fortune, I was then contacted by Graham-Pelton to consider a fundraising consultant position with the firm. Sixteen years later, I have a whole different perspective of fundraising!

Professionally, I’m proud of this progression: to have journeyed from being a reluctant fundraiser to making my first solicitation (and for $3 million). A personal triumph that was also long in coming was the Ed.D. degree that I earned. At age 15 I checked off “doctorate” on the PSAT profile survey regarding my desired educational objectives, and I never forgot that. It took until I reached the age of 43, but I finally did it.

Boring though it is, I have tried to subscribe to “moderation in all things.” I am also a firm believer that selfishness is at the root of so many of the world’s ills. I try to work every day at greater selflessness. That has a lot to do with what has made my career culmination in philanthropy so meaningful to me; at its purest level, generosity is selflessness. I leave my fundraising career feeling blessed to have witnessed such an inspirational spirit of giving in so many of our clients and their donors.

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