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Open Ears, Open Hearts

 

In this episode, Andrew chats with Anna Sease, Senior Director of Parent & Family Giving at William & Mary.  Andrew and Anna enjoy a lively discussion about creating structure for donors, recognizing and investing in our donors’ needs, and the importance of fostering connection with and for donors.  

Show Notes

Background

After growing up and attending college in Virginia, Anna moved to New York to pursue a career in acting.  After living in NYC for several years, Anna (and her husband!) decided it was time for both a move and a career change.  The pair wanted to return to Virginia, and Anna found a job posting for the director of development position at William & Mary’s Catholic Campus Ministry.  Anna landed the job with the W&M CCM, and from there, she launched her career in development.  

 

Parent and Family Giving

After several years in campus ministry fundraising, Anna moved to work for the College of William & Mary’s advancement office.  Anna got her start in parent and family giving about six years ago, and she’s enjoyed learning how to engage this very specific set of donors with unique and time sensitive needs.  Anna shares how working with parent/family donors is often rewarding because of the families’ special interest in creating a successful and welcoming learning environment for their children.  

 

Creating Donor Structure

As a development professional, Anna takes advantage of the very specific annual cycle that caters to her donors and their relationship to W&M.  Each new year brings a new class of potential parent donors, and it also brings a class of parents whose children will graduate from W&M, opening the door for a senior family gift that honors their child’s graduation.  These big life moments are terrific leverage points for engaging donors.  Anna also leads the College’s Parent and Family Council (PFC), and this Council structure allows Anna to invite donors who give an annual gift of $10,000+ into a group that meets biannually and offers significant engagement and network building opportunities.

 

Open Ears and Hearts

Andrew and Anna close by talking about the importance of building relationships with donors and really listening to their needs and desires.  Anna shares ways that she, professionally and personally, connects with parents and families, she stresses the fact that relationship building, even when it doesn’t seem like a development task, should never be ignored.  The fruits of connecting with and listening to (potential) donors, while not always immediately evident, could absolutely be significant to your development program down the road.  

 

Lightning Round

  1. If you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
    • I would raise money for the Catholic Church.  I love it so much.  That’s where I started, and God willing, that’s probably where I’ll end up some day.  The Church is so important to the world.
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • Milton Hershey:  What he did with his school is really fascinating to me. 
  3. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
    • I think so, yes.  But, I think the emphasis is on “good” work.  Many organizations are doing similar work, but donors will look for those that stand out.  
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • When my college path didn’t turn out like I expected, I became sad and resentful.  Then I met my husband where I went to college, and we’ve built a wonderful life together, and I know the Lord was working in it all, despite the rejection and disappointment I felt at the time.  Thus, I’d tell myself to trust Jesus and stay close to him.  He’s working everything out for good, even if it doesn’t look the way the world expects it to look.        
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you professionally?
    • Dan Moraczewski and Jamie Cappetta, both from Petrus Development:  Dan hired me for the position at the W&M CCM, and Jamie trained me.  I literally would not be where I am today if they had not invited me into this career and shown me how it could be a vocation.    
    • Stacey Summerfield:  Stacey hired me at William & Mary, and she introduced me to parent giving and trained me well.  She’s really great at relationships, and she built our parent and family giving program.      
    • Ginger Ambler:  Ginger is the VP for Student Affairs at W&M, and she’s been such a mentor.  She doesn’t consider herself a development person, but I’ve learned so much about development and relationship building from her.    
  6. What is one fact about you that most people don’t know?
    • I twice performed at the Lincoln Center in the National Shakespeare Competition.    
  7. What is a book that you would recommend?
    • Bible Basics for Catholics by Dr. John Bergsma.  I’ve read it several times, and it’s a great starting point for Catholics and a great introduction to covenant theology.  

 

If you would like to connect with Anna, you can email her at [email protected].    

 

Andrew’s Takeaways

Anna and I had a lot of fun with this interview.  I’ve known Anna for years, and it was a pleasure to spend time with her.  My first takeaway  from our time together is simply about the power of relationships and how a strong development structure can help foster those relationships.  Anna shared about her Parent and Family Council, and it reminded me of the Rapport Society that we had when I worked at A&M’s medical school.  In both instances, the structure of those councils enhanced donors’ abilities to form connections and build relationships.  In joining these councils, donors meet new people, build relationships, and increase their access to information and  personal networks.  This access could create tremendous personal opportunities for donors down the road, and we, as development professionals, need to recognize this potential donor benefit and lean into it.  We can create donor structures that not only allow for this benefit of relationships between donors but also encourage it.  

 

My second takeaway is for those organizations who want to build donor structures like the Parent and Family Council but who are just getting started.  I think Anna is right on with the advice she gives about starting small and being patient.  It’s unrealistic to think that your organization can start a council and immediately have the number of donors and donations that Anna gets at W&M.  William and Mary has been building this program and cultivating donors for years.  I’m reminded again of my time with the Rapport Society.  We started with a handful of core families, and we really invested in those relationships and we thoughtfully considered how to grow.  In the end, the Rapport Society has been quite successful, but it didn’t start as what it is now.  It started small.  It started slow.  And, we had to be patient.  Thus, I share that takeaway with you.  If you’re trying to start a new program, don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Start small, be patient, wait to grow, and really, listen to how the Holy Spirit guides you.  You might find something different that works even better for you than the model you’re using for inspiration.  

 

Finally, in my third takeaway, I turn to the absolute joy that Anna has for her work with parent and family donors.  As she mentioned, she takes a special joy and pride in the community engagement portion of her work.  She loves reaching out and inviting people into her work and into the W&M community.  I’d love for us all to try to cultivate that same joy for connection and invitation.  Anna reminds us of the benefits of relationship building, but she also reminds us that we can have fun with these relationships, with these connections.  Our goal is to meet our donors where they are and welcome them personally to the community we hope they will support financially.  

 

 


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

03:43.28

aggierobison

Well howdy everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Petrus Development Show, I'm thrilled that you're with us here today. Today I have Anna Sease senior director of parent and family giving at William and Mary and Anna and I met years ago when she was the development director for Catholic Campus Ministry at William and Mary, and we've stayed in touch and I reached out to her a couple weeks ago and asked her if she'd be interested in joining me for a conversation on the podcast and she said absolutely I would and so today I'm excited that we've got Anna joining us so Anna. Thanks so much for being here.

 

04:16.93

Anna Sease

Um, Andrew thanks for the opportunity. It was really humbling and exciting that you asked so I'm glad to be here.

 

04:26.95

aggierobison

Good. Well I'm sure we'll have a great conversation and your fundraising focuses on a segment parent and family giving which I think is really fascinating for really all of our listeners certainly um because it's something that everybody wants to be a little bit better at and maybe. Ah, if you know trying to design those strategies. So I'm sure we'll talk a lot about that. So before we dive in there once you tell us a little bit about your background. How did you come to be the senior director of parent and family giving William Mary?

 

04:47.23

Anna Sease

Um, I'm excited.

 

04:52.60

Anna Sease

Sure. Well I grew up in Virginia I went to a college in Virginia and as a theater major I quickly moved up to New York after I graduated to pursue an acting career. And in the course of that I worked for Scholastic Parent Child magazine as my day job. It ended up being really my full time work while I lived in New York, and on that team I was in marketing so all of those. Um. Ads you see in magazines or even on cereal boxes like you clip out the cereal box and mail it in for a free scholastic book. That was me mailing scholastic books to families around the country. Um, but I married my college sweetheart. We lived in New York City for several years…

 

05:39.19

aggierobison

That's awesome.

 

05:45.10

Anna Sease

…And had our first daughter up there and it's just really hard to have a baby in a big city away from family and so on a personal level. We decided that we needed to be closer to family and move back to Virginia and…

 

05:50.70

aggierobison

Yeah, yeah.

 

06:01.87

Anna Sease

…In New York I had been really involved in my parish in Astoria in Queens and involved with the sisters of life up in New York and started discerning, you know, maybe I want to be more involved in ministry on a professional level so I was looking for ministry opportunities and without having any sort of degree or background in it professionally I found an opportunity for the director of development at Catholic Campus Ministry in Williamsburg virginia and um, thanks, be to Petrus Development, I joined the team there and it really was life changing. It introduced me to the world of development and brought my family to the place where we really feel is home and has been so wonderful to us. So, Catholic campus ministry William and Mary introduced me to this community broadly and in the process of writing a recommendation for 1 of our board members to receive. The alumni medallion which is william and mary's most prestigious award I was invited to consider a position for the muscarelle museum of art here at William and Mary and in the process of that interview I was…

 

07:32.28

Anna Sease

…Then introduced to parent family giving and student affairs philanthropy at William and Mary and that seemed to be a better fit to me personally my skills and that is ultimately what I chose six years ago so I've been with parent family giving and student affairs. Philanthropy. 6 years now and just recently will be growing and shifting our team so I'm focused primarily on parent and family giving at this point.

 

08:01.48

aggierobison

Well, that's awesome. Well I Love that story, and you know so much of fundraising is about storytelling. It's about you know, drawing on you know, helping our donors kind of experience the emotion of you know their experience at our organizations or. You know, whatever that might be and I'm sure that being a former theater major and ah, you know an actress certainly has served you well in that regard. Would you say that that you still sort of you know draw from that experience or have you like left that life And. Ah, focus in on what you're doing now.

 

08:38.52

Anna Sease

I Do draw from that experience and it's not always just the storytelling. I always tell families too that theater is actually a really great liberal arts major and don't be afraid when your child wants to pursue that. Um, even if it doesn't mean a literal profession in that field I think the way it serves me the best is that it taught me to listen So when you're when you're seeing a really great movie or play. It's actually incredible listening and.

 

09:17.22

Anna Sease

Think as fundraisers we have to do that incredibly? Well so we're always listening for um, very meaningful tidbits from our donors so that we can leverage that and. And it also taught me curiosity and I think that Curiosity is a really important characteristic of a good fundraiser to always be wanting more and more information and how did that happen or where did you? How did that lead to…

 

09:53.60

aggierobison

Yeah, that's really fascinating. I appreciate you sharing that because I've studied history in my undergrad degree and I bounced around to a couple of different degrees. I did business, I did parks and tourism science. And finally I set all on history and.

 

09:53.32

Anna Sease

…Next thing, etc.

 

10:11.24

aggierobison

Um, my dad used to tease me all the time. He said Andrew , you know there's no future in history and I was like ah well maybe yeah and you know, but ah at the time it was kind of like all right a history major. What do you do? do you go teach and I I thought that that might be a path but ultimately ended up in fundraising and I really have valued that…

 

10:12.65

Anna Sease

Um.

 

10:30.33

aggierobison

…Sort of foundation because again like you it didn't necessarily give me a trade right? and people go to school for engineering for computer science for architecture for all of those which are great and it turns into a trade but the liberal Arts degree sometime. It's um. It serves people well in terms of just giving you an opportunity to think um, giving you an opportunity to do research to I mean I read so many books and wrote so many papers and but I never considered it from the standpoint that you just mentioned just this idea of listening and then curiosity and that certainly has served me well. Both as a fundraiser and then now as a business owner and you know entrepreneur and so um, yeah I Really appreciate you sharing that. That's really Cool. So tell us a little bit about what is parent and family giving at a university.

 

11:23.79

Anna Sease

I feel so privileged to work with parent donors. I work with a lot of colleagues who think I could never work with parent donors both my student affairs colleagues but also advancement colleagues and I think that they are some of the best donors because.

 

11:42.52

Anna Sease

There's no one in the University who loves these students the way their parents do and so their giving is coming from an extremely heartfelt place and that does come with lots of different elements.

 

11:58.65

Anna Sease

You have parents who are giving for many different reasons just as any of us have different motivations for what we do, but they have entrusted their precious person to our university and it's very immediate. So The other thing that I love about working with parents. Is that there is an annual cycle that grounds me in what I'm doing in each season and so we have a new incoming class every single year and different from Alumni giving where you're working with a family for…

 

12:36.69

Anna Sease

…Years, decades parents you're meeting new parents and qualifying them every single year and then every single year you have a class that is graduating and so you've got these big life moments that you can leverage as points. For giving discussions and so it's fast paced. It's fun to meet them. It's fun to get very personal with them quickly because they're coming to campus. Their students are achieving great things and sometimes are languishing and you have to walk with them through that. Um, but there's so many great ways that you can connect with parents and invite them into whatever your mission is whether that's the university for me or your campus ministry. So William and Mary I structure. The main part of our parent family giving program is around the parent and family council and that is a council of for us 80 families. There's no set number that's just where we are this year and each of those families is giving at least $10000 to our parents fund and then we talk with them over the course of their time at william and mary and even beyond about a major gift and many of them do and the council serves as.

 

14:06.87

Anna Sease

Not quite a board. There's no fiduciary responsibility and it's a little bit more than a stewardship circle but they are coming to campus for meetings twice a a year. I am communicating with them through email regularly. We're stewarding them at 1 of our.



14:26.40

Anna Sease

Giving society levels and we're doing monthly Zoom calls and different things to help them feel extremely connected with the university and so that is our parent family council structure. At the same time I'm also doing broad parent parent fundraising so parents fund um other major gifts from families. So some families don't have an interest in the council or…

 

14:45.73

aggierobison

Um, yeah.

 

14:59.64

Anna Sease

…The parents fund specifically they want to invest their time in a different school or unit and so we help to identify where they want to be engaged at the university and then the student affairs piece of my job which I've had for the last six years is is working with alumni on student life initiatives and that's where that felt in terms of my transition from ministry into a university setting that was kind of the the next step because many of our student affairs colleagues at.

 

15:36.33

Anna Sease

At our universities really serve as an extension of that ministry at least we do at William and Mary.

 

15:41.57

aggierobison

Yeah, yeah I think that you know in terms of you know, engaging other you know extracurricular I say extracurricular or outside organizations certainly student affairs is where I see most of that you know sort of the the. Collaboration I Guess certainly whether there's ah, a formal or an informal relationship. Certainly there's ah, there's a working relationship right? and in most of those cases. Um you mentioned earlier you know parents have all sorts of different motivations for why they might give um, would you be willing to kind of dive into what some of those.

 

16:18.65

aggierobison

Are that what you see and then how you how you have conversations like how you have conversations with different parents based on kind of what that that vibe is that they're giving you or the or the direct ah sort of um motivation that they're explaining to you.

 

16:35.73

Anna Sease

Yeah, it really does help me to have that council as the anchor for that first leadership annual gift. So for us a $10000 gift is a leadership annual gift for many ministries that might be ah, a major gift. But having that as the structure that you can invite someone into so it provides engagement right away So when a parent comes into the University Community. You're building a relationship with them immediately and so you've got to do that engagement and solicitation simultaneously. So many families will join that council because they want to be. Engaged in this university that they're now adopting for themselves whether they have an affinity for their own Alma mater or not their child is at this University their student their young adult. And it feels very much a part of their family. They got the sweatshirt. They got the hat when they went on the college tour. They were probably pretty involved in their students' application process. Um, and even if they don't want to hover or have.

 

18:04.39

Anna Sease

Ah, direct participation in the life of their student on campus. They're very invested in the success of the university that their student is going to graduate from. They're investing in it anyway.

 

18:23.49

Anna Sease

And the return on their investment is that their student graduates with a really great degree and has a career that is meaningful and substantive and so many of them want to just continue their investment. To be connected to each other in that community of parents like-minded parents. It. It becomes a network for themselves. It becomes a network for their students. So a lot of our council families are.

 

19:01.30

Anna Sease

Introducing their students to others that they meet on the council you can imagine that families who are giving at that level are successful professionally and so they're able to make really helpful career connections. They're shadowing.

 

19:09.70

aggierobison

Yeah.

 

19:19.65

Anna Sease

Students are shadowing them in the medical field or the law profession or in finance. So that connection to their student is helpful and and then just the connection to the people at the University So When. We are engaging families. They're meeting. They spend a lot of time with our vice president for student affairs. But we're introducing them to a number of leaders across campus and that. Name recognition that time with them. We All know how important relationship building is in our work and so to be able to connect those parents with people at the University is is just really hopeful.

 

20:11.99

aggierobison

when I worked at the Texas A+M medical school. We had a a similar group. We called it the rapport society other colleges had their own and they usually called them some sort of development or advancement council. But it was. Was structured in similar way. Our dollar amount was a thousand dollars versus $10000 annual. But um, but you're right it it kind of led to all of those different things right cultivation many of those report society members were the people that ultimately you know I was able to work with to to give major gifts. They had a scholarship matching. Um, program through that which they really liked and so it led to a lot of scholarships. Um individual scholarships and um, but 1 of the things that I always sort of had in my mind but I like the way that you phrased it a little bit better is one of the one of the only things that we as um. As the development staff could really offer kind of in in in exchange. Obviously you know that stewardship in that you know sort of allowing our donors to to support and feel good and live out their call. Um and and make a difference but it was access right and it was access to students. It was access to like you said other members of the council.

 

21:27.75

aggierobison

Was access to leadership and you know some of those some of that access led to you know tremendous opportunities for the donors. You know, ah you know business partnerships or you know those type relationships certainly you know, spending time with any you know any university administrator and leadership. You know the vice president or. You know we would have our chancellor come and speak occasionally and that was kind of the 1 thing that that we could offer but I like the way that you said a little bit better is connections right? It was they who helped them to build those connections and in many ways like it's helpful to us as development people if we recognize that and then we lean into it and don't.

 

22:05.13

aggierobison

Shy away from it but really say I'd love to connect you with this person these other donors I'd love to connect you with you know this faculty member who's studying that and um and and let the connections themselves sort of build that cultivation with them through the University Yeah was that.

 

22:17.53

Anna Sease

Right? Yeah, no I have colleagues who you know this is this is a time where we are all sensitive to access right? I think that we can shy away from it because we want...

 

22:36.72

Anna Sease

…Everyone to have access and from my perspective we're not eliminating access to anyone else, but it is. It's about, um, you know they know that they can at least call me as their liaison and…

 

22:43.50

aggierobison

Right.

 

22:56.38

Anna Sease

…And then I can connect them with people on campus not for any extra special treatment but it helps to know someone when you've got a large community. It's the same way in small group…

 

23:13.65

Anna Sease

…Bible studies are helpful in a large parish when you have a small group of people that you can…

 

23:33.62

Anna Sease

…When you have a small group in a parish. It creates a smaller community and you can count on those relationships a little bit better than in a large group where you know, but it also yeah leaning into. Your donor's expertise to I think about their desire to make a difference in many ways is lending their expertise their…

 

24:11.15

Anna Sease

…Their experience to students and that's ah, that's a helpful way to make them feel good and give them something that they can be proud of and connects them with the students. We're always trying to connect our donors back to impact. More time. Our donors can spend with students and let the students showcase how incredible they are how incredible the work is that they're doing especially from a career standpoint for us at William and Mary in our…

 

24:50.18

Anna Sease

…current strategic plan, careers is 1 of four pillars and so we are connecting as many constituents to career engagement opportunities as possible.

 

25:04.63

aggierobison

Yeah, yeah, and I can't I mean there were tons you know as with the medical school so most of our donors were physicians active physicians not all of them and certainly in that report society. But there were so many just conversations that happened with students that were at events or. You know when we would take the rapport society in to you know, be involved with like interview day or you know whatever that might be so many conversations just sort of happened organically between the students and the parents or the donors and then the um and then certainly between the other the donors themselves and. You know that's like you. I love what you said. You know it's like taking a large community and you know helping people find their smaller community within that where they can really develop those relationships. Um, what about when you know so with college students right? You have them for 4…

 

25:59.73

aggierobison

Maybe 5, maybe 6 years right? So presumably the parents, right? you would have them as active parents you know, obviously some parents many parents have multiple kids but how do you? Um, how do you address that and how do you continue to engage parents after their students have graduated from the school.

 

26:20.22

Anna Sease

I use another structure I mean in development we're always kind of creating these infrastructures right to to move major gifts along and for us the senior family gift is our opportunity to talk with them about a major…

 

26:26.62

aggierobison

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

26:39.43

Anna Sease

…contribution or pledge that would honor their students' experience, celebrate their achievements and Mark this milestone for their family which is graduation. That major gift sometimes happens before there's before that senior year moment. And sometimes it happens after it depends on the family and you know so much of what I've learned is not forcing and ah, an agenda right? You have kind of the timeline that we want to prescribe but this is…

 

27:17.93

Anna Sease

…this is their life and their decision. So you can use that transition from student to graduation and graduate. To talk about a gift that some would call it a capstone gift that implies a little bit like it's the last one and you might not want to imply that that would be the last thing that they're going to do with the institution…

 

27:45.72

aggierobison

Yeah, right.

 

27:55.45

Anna Sease

…And it does get a little tougher to engage families after their student has graduated but there are families that have developed such a strong connection with the University and relationships with us that they do continue and many will start. Including their student or then graduate in those conversations so you have families of wealth who they are transferring that wealth to their child and and in many ways they want that gift to be reflective of what. Student wants. So that's an exciting transition too.

 

28:33.12

aggierobison

I mean just from a practical standpoint I'm sure you have parents that tell you hey Anna like I'm done paying tuition right? like this is my chance to make a gift that is, you know, meaningful because. Like I don't have you know this is for parents that are in mis case in many cases parents paying the tuition. Um I mean you know I hear that you know I heard that all the time like they're off the payroll you know like I'm I'm done paying for it. Now's my time that I can actually make a gift so just practically speaking. It's a nice time to have those conversations too.

 

29:05.27

Anna Sease

Um, yeah, yeah, definitely.

 

29:10.47

aggierobison

Yeah, so what are some of the I have 2 questions and I'll ask this first? Um, if somebody is at an organization. Let's say it's you know, ah a ministry another university. Um, ah, a school. Whatever it is and they say Anna this sounds great I would love to have a council of maybe it's just parents um your parent family counsel. Maybe it's just a council in general of donors and they say where do I even start? What would you say from your experience 6 years

 

29:44.50

aggierobison

Working with this group. What would you say is critical? These are the things that you want to use to start and then knowing that over time they'll evolve…

 

29:54.15

Anna Sease

Um, having a partner or partners within your donor base is incredibly incredibly helpful I Think about.

 

30:10.51

Anna Sease

Major decisions that we've had to make with the council or for the council and you want people to feel that buy-in and that connection to the vision and so if you were to start. Ah, council whether that's parents or alumni or community members. You would want to have um you would want to have your core group established First. Um.

 

30:48.85

Anna Sease

And then I would say start small and continue growing. I think when we're we get inspiration from other organizations or ministries. It can be easy to. To look at the you know the picture 10 years from now and try to jump the whole you know bite off the whole thing and it and it can be challenging but um, start with a meeting to bring everyone together. Um, again, bringing back.

 

31:27.74

Anna Sease

That connection so people want to be together. They want to see that others are just as excited about your organization or ministry as they are they want to see the excitement in you. Um, that's extremely powerful so find ways to bring people together and. And then keep communicating with them and sharing. It's just that feedback Loop. You know this is what you were doing in the Ministry. This is what you have accomplished in this organization and then bring them back again and so if you start out with just.

 

31:47.73

aggierobison

Yeah.

 

32:07.37

Anna Sease

This is the year and these are the touch points that we're going to have with this group then you can put together even a 1 sheet. You know this is what we're asking of you and then this is what you can expect to experience. As you grow closer to the ministry or the organization, we hope that as we talk with you and engage with you in your interests and help facilitate where you want to grow in the organization that we find those meaningful. Specific touch points for you.

 

32:45.48

aggierobison

Yeah I think that all of those are they totally align with my experience with the rapport society I think it was the same you know, ah core group of like 6 families that was the rapport society core for probably you know a good five or six years and um they would have you know some join in some you know? ah. For a season and then they'd leave and but it was those same and um and then over time like then once they sort of got through that really tough phase of the founding of it right? Ah and then it started to gain momentum. They started to. You know we we found opportunities to promote that and then when I started it was I think we probably had 30 members and then you know just a couple years later we had probably close to eighty or eighty five members and so um, it is something that it can feel discouraging when you say oh I want to be at 80 families right now and then you think. Oh well, we're at we're at 6 is that good I don't know like what? What do I what? how do I feel about this. But if you if you stick with it and really help to really invest in those core members that was where I saw a tremendous and you know many of those people I'm still.

 

33:56.57

aggierobison

I'm still friends with right. I still communicate. I send Christmas cards to them because we work so hard to sort of move the ball and move the needle on that group. Um, and then ah just that that just investment in them and then that ongoing communication is huge.

 

34:12.89

Anna Sease

Yeah, and giving them the opportunity to build it too. So when I think about our recruitment cycle for the parent family council. Um, I call it a recruitment cycle. I don't know that others you know the parents themselves consider it that. But. Members of the council. They almost get competitive with the families that they bring on so you know they like to kind of claim the families that they had the conversation with at move in or family weekend or I give them outreach lists so they're reaching out to do welcome events.

 

34:32.38

aggierobison

Yeah, yeah, yeah, right.

 

34:50.30

Anna Sease

Regionally around the country. So the families themselves take a lot of pride and joy in that community engagement piece of their mission in reaching out broadly and inviting people in with them.

 

35:04.94

aggierobison

Yeah, yeah.

 

35:07.43

Anna Sease

They're having fun. You know a lot so much of this is to keep it fun and keep it very personal. Um, ah one of my favorite pieces of communication that I do each year is a first day of class email and again this is. You know you've got new families coming to campus and and you've got to establish a relationship quickly because you're wanting to solicit them in that first semester at the very latest.

 

35:41.39

aggierobison

Yeah.

 

35:43.30

Anna Sease

Um, you know a lot of these families I'm having conversations with in the summer before their student even arrives. But so that first day of class I send a note out to all of my prospective donor families that I imagine will be part of our mission and. And I congratulate them on the first day of school. They're not on campus. Their student has started school for the first time. It might be the first day that they didn't take that first day of school photo on the front porch and so I take some photos for them. I walk around campus that day take some photos.

 

36:21.64

Anna Sease

But it is in the email and I make it about my experience as a mom too and how I am feeling as I witness what's going on in their student's life and then I add a bit about rice crispy treats and everyone loves it and and i. I actually had ah a dinner with a family right before Thanksgiving and they accepted the meeting because of that email they said we we get solicitations all the time and that 1 caught our eye because it was so personal.

 

36:58.82

Anna Sease

And you invited us into an experience and you connect it with us emotionally where we were and when I think about you know, kind of going back to different motivations that families have forgiving.. There's a lot of emotions that go on when things go badly on campus or there's a problem with you name it I feel like I could do a whole podcast series on crises like college crises and how to fundraise through that and.

 

37:24.86

aggierobison

Oh yeah, oh man. Yeah.

 

37:31.97

Anna Sease

I've learned a lot this year in particular about pausing and relating to people and when it doesn't feel like a development task. But it is to simply listen to someone and let them vent or let them come to you with something unrelated to fundraising. Um, that's where it gets even special I would say. When you're able to just walk with them and and keep up that good work for those who are listening and kind of in that season with their ministry or their organization or their donor base right now keep it up and and listen and empathize because. Um, that's that's all part of it.

 

38:33.10

aggierobison

Well we started this. You know talking about your experience as a theater major and what that taught you and you said it taught me how to listen and you know that seems like that's ah, a huge part of your work now. And yeah I mean truthfully I think the best…

 

38:48.82

aggierobison

…fundraisers in the world are really good at storytelling but even better at listening right? So they know when um, when to just zip it and let the donor share their experience or whatever that might be um.

39:07.54

aggierobison

And then I love what you said about? Ah, you know, ah the email to the parents and every year um so now me and my wife we've got four kids and every time on every year on their birthday. 1 of the first things that I say to my wife when we wake up at you know my daughter's birthday or son's birthday is. Well congratulations. Dear we've we've made him a he got him another year older or it's like sometimes you forget about the effort that that the parents but it just just to together there. Yeah, certainly that you know you're talking about getting your kids all the way you know to college and showing up at.

 

39:41.18

aggierobison

Google on the first day. Ah, just the effort of you know parenting and offering them a word of you did it like congratulations and your efforts have have got your child to this point and that's really cool I love that.

 

39:47.73

Anna Sease

Um, oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah, well I have to give Heidi Anderson credit for that she was in the she led the parent program at Dartmouth. Long time and just in the course of my own parent and family giving work I learned some of that early engagement communication stuff from her and it really is good.

 

40:14.37

aggierobison

That's awesome. Ah so um, we spent a lot of time talking about parents and family and I think that was ah Great. We had some other questions but you know I think that maybe we. We want to transition over to lightning round now and have you back on another time and dive into some of those other details. How's that sound? Yeah Great. So you are ready for lightning round questions?

 

40:37.96

Anna Sease

We'll see. There's some that I might have to pass.

 

40:40.20

aggierobison

They make you think they certainly do yeah good all right question number 1 of our lightning round if you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any point in history, what would it be?

 

40:54.65

Anna Sease

I think this is probably a boring answer but the Catholic Church I mean that's where I started and I love it so much and I think that that's probably where I'll end up someday, God willing. But the…

 

41:12.67

Anna Sease

…Church is just so important to the world the work that it's doing and just on an eternal perspective I don't think that there is any other better organization or cause.

 

41:27.56

aggierobison

Yeah, that's awesome. Not a boring answer. I love it. It's great question number 2 if you could get a donor meeting with anyone in the world living or dead who would it be with?

 

41:39.73

Anna Sease

Then this is where I feel completely inadequate because I'm like especially talking with a history major like I have no idea who in the history of the world I would talk with but um.

 

41:52.94

Anna Sease

I don't know, we have really good friends who live in Hershey Pennsylvania and Milton Hershey and what he did with the school is really fascinating to me. So maybe maybe Milton Hershey

 

42:06.62

aggierobison

What would you and you can't bring him Rice Chris be you you probably can't bring him a chocolate bar. What would you like to bring him as part of your you know, hey nice to meet you I brought you something that'd be tricky. Maybe a bottle of salsa or something I don't know just something hot sauce. Ah.

 

42:16.00

Anna Sease

Um, that would be tricky I don't know pretzels you could dip in the chocolate a chocolate accompaniment.

 

42:26.79

aggierobison

Yeah, we used to do this totally off subject. But after college we were yeah we lived in college station and it's a college towns sometimes are tough for young families or young couples without families right? You know.

 

42:41.58

aggierobison

You don't really fit anywhere and so we we had to kind of build our own community and um, we did that through adult softball and through fondue nights and ah so we would host fondue nights and we'd always have ah a giant ah ball of melted chocolate and then a giant ball of melted cheese and you know you can.

 

43:01.22

aggierobison

You can kind of get creative and like you know how you mix these. I'm sure you know there would be people that would turn their nose up at you know an Apple dipped in cheese and also then drizzled with chocolate but you know hey don't knock it until you try it right.

 

43:11.63

Anna Sease

It tastes a me that sounds that sounds like the best way to make friends like anyone who's down for melted chocolate and melted cheese.

 

43:23.64

aggierobison

Ah, that's right, yeah, good all right question number 3 is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?

 

43:30.81

Anna Sease

Um, I think so, yes, but I think the emphasis is on good work. You know I think that there are so many organizations probably doing similar work and.

 

43:47.24

Anna Sease

…think about those that stand out. Um, I'm always thinking about Mentors. You know, like who are the people that I admire as great professionals and it's the same with Ministries. So Even as a. Donor when you're discerning where to invest your giving think about the ones that are doing truly good work because there are some that probably aren't so I would say yes. Yes, to the ones who are truly doing good work.

 

44:24.22

aggierobison

But I think on the you know I mean donors want to support I Always tell people nobody wants to nobody wanted to throw more money onto the titanic as it was going down right? like they donors want to support organization that they can see are have a future and um are.

 

44:42.80

aggierobison

Are ah trending upwards right? and I think that is the point that you're making is that there's a lot of nonprofits out there that are in existence but have a hard time making the case to their donors for that good work piece and if we want to be…

 

44:59.75

aggierobison

…Worthy of our donors' investment and their support like we need to as nonprofits always be striving for excellence and I think that in the work that we do in the programming that we offer the impact that we make and I think that's where you can be successful in fundraising.

 

45:11.30

Anna Sease

Um, yeah I agree with her.

 

45:15.68

aggierobison

Question number 4 if you could go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

 

45:20.68

Anna Sease

So This is where I get a little vulnerable because I working on a college campus and especially when you think about move-in so we talked a lot about incoming students every move-in I get a little choked up because. When I was applying for colleges I did not get into a single college I applied for and that rocked me big time and so I you know I went to a college I was kind of resentful of even that. Accepted me I'm like no one else accepted me. Why would you and and that was a tough experience for me and to this day I don't have strong affinity for my university and I think about those…



46:18.33

Anna Sease

…Big things that we consider in society as like ultimate experiences like your high school experience and your college experience and your college friends and and I put a lot of pressure on that and. Yet I met my husband in college and we have built a life that is so wonderful like I am just so thankful for every step. Along the way that I know the lord was working in so the lord was working in that rejection and the lord was working in my disappointment with where I ended up the lord was working in my resentment and so looking back on it I would say trust Jesus. And just stay close to him because he is working everything out for good and it might not look the way the world expects it to look but you can lean into challenge and it can sanctify. You.

 

47:31.90

aggierobison

That's beautiful. Thanks for sharing that makes me think of Garth Brooks' song unanswered prayers. I'm sure you've heard that you know just this idea that the things that we want the most um that when they don't happen. It can be crushing and yet there is a.

 

47:46.70

aggierobison

There is a plan and God is working through that in some way so that's cool I I had a similar experience out of college not getting into college but out of college and the the dream job that I wanted ah told me no as I said thanks for applying and you know it was pretty pretty devastating I would agree and…

 

48:05.77

aggierobison

…and yet here we are, you know 18 years later and have built a life and built a family and have you know couldn't couldn't couldn't imagine kind of you know if we had if I had gone down that path. How things would be different and so just being grateful for what we have even when it.

 

48:22.88

Anna Sease

Um, yeah, yeah, well in all of us working in college anything College Ministry University I think that that's such a pivotal moment for people and to see students struggling with that.

 

48:43.62

Anna Sease

Today and just being able to walk with them and yeah, um.

 

48:50.49

aggierobison

That's great. Well thanks for sharing all right question number 5 who are 3 people who have most influenced your professional development?

 

48:55.81

Anna Sease

Right? So another shoutout to Petrus Development because Dan Moraczewski hired me at William and Mary CCM and then Jamie Capetta trained me and those 2 introducing me to the art. Of development. Um I wouldn't be here literally I would not be here today if they had not invited me into this career and showed me how it can be a vocation. So definitely those two I have to put them together. Because then I have to also credit Stacey Summerfield who hired me at William and Mary and she was my boss for four months. It was very brief. In fact, Jamie I worked with Jamie for a very brief amount of time too. I feel like all these people. It's just like these tiny snapshots that have…

 

49:53.87

Anna Sease

…longstanding impact but Stacy introduced me to parent giving and she was the one who built our program and really great at relationships. All of these people are so good at relationships but she trained me in the parent piece. And a lot of what I continue to do I always think about what would Stacy do um and then my third is Ginger Ambler who is our vice president for student affairs and she has been such a great champion and mentor. And even as a university leader she is so good at just coming back to values and listening and being there for people and walking with them and so even. You know she does not consider herself a development person but I learned so much about good development work because she knows how to take time to invest in people and so she's been. Really instrumental in my life professionally and personally.

 

51:08.99

aggierobison

That's awesome. Well I'd love this question because it allows us to go back and kind of be reflective of people along our journey that helped us get to where we are so question number 6 What is something interesting about you that people may not know?

 

51:21.67

Anna Sease

I Always hate that question if you love it. It is I feel like I always answer it in the same way. So then anyone who's ever heard me talk or read anything about me. It's like I actually do know that about you.

 

51:27.15

aggierobison

I Love it. It's my favorite. Ah.

 

51:55.31

Anna Sease

My most exciting thing that I did growing up was performing at the Lincoln Center in the Shakespeare competition, the national Shakespeare competition. So it was exciting to get to be at Lincoln Center twice. I did it twice and so that was pretty big.

 

52:12.87

aggierobison

How Um how old were you?

 

52:14.32

Anna Sease

I was a sophomore in high school and then a senior in high school.

 

52:19.71

aggierobison

And is that how you got interested in acting even before then.

 

52:29.65

Anna Sease

Um I guess I started acting as a kid in a summer program and then and loved it and so in high school. Well even in middle school I was acting in. Directing and so by high school I was able to really dive into it and discovered Shakespeare from the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton Virginia incredible theater. I always say they do Shakespeare better than many in Britain you know, like many in the UK um and I actually had one of their company members coach me.

 

53:22.76

Anna Sease

Guess that was the year that I did my senior year. She coached me in my monologue and it's just that it also seemed like a gift that our little town in Virginia even had it was hosted by the English speaking union. And the fact that we had a chapter because the competition was regional and then you have 1 representative from every state in the us. So the competition in New York is 50 high schoolers and. You're judged by Broadway Actors um and it was one of those things where in height like small town high school you feel like the odd person because you like Shakespeare Rural Virginia

 

54:04.20

aggierobison

Wow.

 

54:19.16

Anna Sease

And then you go to New York and you're like oh there's like there are other there are other weirdos like me but that happened to me too with um.

 

54:31.96

aggierobison

That's hilarious.

 

54:36.50

Anna Sease

Ah, what is it? Indy Vision Notre Dame does a summer retreat for catholic high schoolers and again, no one in my high school was catholic, very few in the like. I think of my Sunday school class in high school and I go on this retreat. Summer retreat at Notre Dame and I'm like sobbing at all of these talks and things because like I didn't know that other people had faith and I ended up. Maybe this is the more interesting thing about me. Because of that retreat I decided to do an independent study my senior year of high school on st therese and write a one woman play about her and didn't end up writing the onewoman play. Because I didn't know anything about playwriting I didn't have anyone to teach but um, but that would that was a year that you know I was thinking about consecrated life and all of that and so.

 

55:31.83

aggierobison

Okay, okay, make sense. Yeah.

 

55:49.51

Anna Sease

Think about those moments in your young adult development that can lead anywhere.

 

55:57.12

aggierobison

I had to do a research paper for a history of science class and he said you can pick any topic. You just have to, you know, research it and um, he said but you have to get approved by me first and so I was really um. Have a couple of tattoos and so I was interested in tattoos so I took that to him and I said how about the history of tattooing and he goes no Andrew I don't know you can't do that pick something else. Ah okay, ah and I said ah how about the history of contraception and he said huh. Okay.

 

56:27.43

aggierobison

Yeah, you could do it and he was actually a really great professor. He was a older gentleman catholic went to the one of the parishes in town and doing that research actually like completely transformed my thoughts and my view and actually you know I kind of dove into some of the teachings of Scott Hahn and

 

56:46.64

aggierobison

Um, you know, just teachings of the church and the catechism and all of that that I was not expecting and um, it was really it. It was a powerful moment in my own faith journey. Um all because he said no to the history of tattooing. So it's probably smart. He probably knew what he was doing.

 

56:52.56

Anna Sease

Um, I bet.

 

57:03.38

Anna Sease

The good that comes out of no.

 

57:04.20

aggierobison

Last question: what is 1 book you think everyone should read?

 

57:14.11

Anna Sease

So I'm going to say Bible Basics for Catholics by Dr John Bergsma. I read that ah a long while ago and have read it a couple times since because.

 

57:30.39

Anna Sease

That was my first introduction to covenant theology and the idea of the covenants in scripture and honestly the stick figures really helped me here. You're saying until like the simpleness.

 

57:43.92

aggierobison

I Like that.

 

57:49.80

Anna Sease

Of um, my mind and um and so that was just a really great foundation Even as an adult you know like those light bulbs where you're like oh all of this makes sense and now doing.

 

58:05.18

Anna Sease

Have to say bible in the year with father Mike Schmidtz I'm on the two and a half year plan but to see that on a daily basis in those scriptures unpacked even more. 

 

58:22.71

Anna Sease

It's been so transformational for me. I mean that's how I start my day and.

 

58:32.58

Anna Sease

It impacts every part of my life from work to family. Um and friends and everything So that was a great foundation for me. Yeah, it.

 

58:41.98

aggierobison

That's awesome. Cool I'm looking up online and those really are stick figures. That's pretty fantastic. I Love it.

 

58:50.50

Anna Sease

It's great. Um, it's a yeah, it's just a great starting point for catholics. But also I think it's a nice way to introduce some of that covenant language and through line to non-catholics.

 

59:00.97

aggierobison

Yeah.

 

59:06.50

Anna Sease

And kids even when I think about talking with my kids. It helps me distill it in ways that I can talk with them about.

 

59:07.24

aggierobison

Oh yeah.

 

59:15.36

aggierobison

Um, that's awesome I would say maybe they have a kid's version but it seems like this is the kids for I don't know how you this is probably right up right of my level if that's the case.

 

59:29.13

Anna Sease

Um, I'm telling you just the stick figures. Don't fight it, just lean into it.

 

59:31.42

aggierobison

Good I am seriously ah great. Good. Well Anna this has been fantastic. I have enjoyed our conversation and learned a lot and um I appreciate you coming on and joining me if people want to get a hold of you or track you down or find more information working. They. How can they contact you?

 

59:50.43

Anna Sease

They can contact me at a m as in Marie Sease S C A S C at w m dot edu.

 

59:55.91

aggierobison

Great and we'll put that in the show notes for people as well. But Anna, it's been a pleasure. Thanks so much for joining me today and for taking time and sharing so many great stories.

 

01:00:04.43

Anna Sease

Thank you Andrew it was great. It was a lot of fun and I'm really grateful that you invited me. I appreciate it.

 

01:00:12.92

aggierobison

Great And for all those listening Thanks for joining me if you have any questions you can holler at Petrus Development or podcast at Petrus Development Dot Com Um, otherwise God Bless you God Bless your work and we'll see you next time.

 

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