Contact Us

Authentic and Intentional - Interview with Sarah Rose

In this episode, Andrew visits with Sarah Rose, Consultant with Petrus Development.  They discuss how to develop authentic and intentional relationships as a development officer. They will also discuss how to develop skills and confidence in your work in the development world. And how to deal with distractions when they feel too important to your work to be labeled as a distraction. 

Show Notes:

Sarah Rose has been a Consultant with Petrus Development for almost 10 years. She earned her degree in Communications from St. Edwards University and her first job out of college was in marketing for a software company. While she did not enjoy her time in that career she was able to spend a lot of time with her young adult Catholic group in Austin. It was during that time that she realized that she wanted to explore working in development for a non-profit. She was encouraged to do informational interviews and that was when she met Peter de Keratry of Petrus Development. 

Petrus Consultant

Sarah has been with Petrus for going on ten years and her first clients included Baylor University, Vanderbilt University and Tulane University. She had a big learning curve and was able to shadow a few consultants. She would shadow them making calls and doing on-site visits to donors. It was a mentorship. She also attended a week long development training program. It was baptism by fire; jump in and start doing it. 

She tells a story of working on a feasibility study and having to share an office with her boss. She sat directly across from him and made phone calls while he sat there and watched. There was no getting out of making calls. It was an opportunity to grow. 

Successful Clients

Development is an art and a science. Art is the authentic aspect. It's being an active listener, being vulnerable. Her most successful clients have a strong faith and prayer life and are able to pull back the curtain and be authentic with their donors. 

Science is the purposeful and intentional aspect of development. It's the tracking and reporting part. 

To be successful you need to be able to lean into being authentic and intentional. Our role in development is asking people for help. We need people to help, to walk with us. 


What are some distractions that development officers deal with? 

In Jesus' ministry, he dealt with constant disruptions. As a mom of three, Sarah has many distractions. It's different for everyone. But there will always be an aspect of your job that you find uncomfortable and we allow ourselves to be distracted from that by other aspects of our job. Example, if writing is uncomfortable, we'll spend our time making calls or going to meetings or joining committees. All of which are good things for our job, but we need to be writing as well. So you need to address the uncomfortable and deal with it. 

If you work at a church, there will be people coming by and multiple distractions. When you listen to the interruptions (lean in with intention) you can find a theme. Maybe the youth minister needs open office hours, etc. There is usually a need that's not being met when there are interruptions. 

When Sarah works with her clients, she discusses this. What makes you uncomfortable and how can we resolve it. Do I need to stare at you while you make phone calls?

If you, as the development director, don't do it - nobody else is going to do it. 

Donor Stories

There was one client who struggled with the authentic aspect. Once Sarah had made a script for calls and the client had more experience, she was able to be authentic. The more she did it, the more confident she grew. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

Sarah describes her strengths as being optimistic, idealist, creative and dreaming up stuff. Her weakness is that she usually has her head in the clouds. The strategy that works for her, she's discovered, is that if she can take that dream and create a plan and break it down into obtainable steps, she can be successful. It helps with the hard part. 

Good choice, bad choice, whatever, God will be with you. You just have to make a choice and act. 

Gifted Writer

Her mom was a journalist, her sister an English major. She comes from a family of writers and readers. Writing is a concrete practice of intentional communication. Writing is a commitment. 

Sarah encourages her clients to make a development specific journal. It encourages them to practice writing. It's a safe place to express your fears and successes in development. 

A common piece of advice to new development directors is to push to think about what works for you. What is your style? Try it out and tweak it with intentional. 

Find a system that fits for you that will set you up for long-term, replicate-able, sustainable success. 


Sarah has the hobby of chaotic family! She has a 7, 5 and 3 year old. And is intentional with her family time. She loves to read and is currently reading the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter books with her kids. She loves to be outside and plans to hike Mt. Denali for her 10 year wedding anniversary. 

Lightning Round

  1. If you could fund-raise for any organization at any time, what would it be?
    • Something fun and colorful. Maybe a children's museum or children's book
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anybody dead or alive, who would it be?
    • Her favorite saints. St. Catherine of Siena
  3. Is there enough money out there for everyone doing good work?
    • Yes. But is it good work?
  4. If you could go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
    • Be yourself. When she has been off the map has been when she hasn't been herself.
  5. Who are three people who have influenced you the most in the fundraising world?
    • Her parents, a mentor from college, Pauline, the former director of family ministry at her church, Terry

Andrew's three takeaways

  1. Loves how development has both an art side and a science side. While we've all probably heard that before, it was nice that Sarah gave names to the sides. It was helpful when Sarah compared that to her family dynamics, needing to have different relationships with her husband and her kids, but still has to be authentic and intentional with everyone, just in different ways.
  2. We talked a lot about distractions. Even Jesus had distractions in His ministry. The important thing is to know what your goals are and always go back to what your personal and institutional mission statement tell you to focus on.
  3. Writing exercises can make us better with words and more equipped in our conversations with donors. 
  4. BONUS: What are your feelings about money? How does that inform your experience as a development officer or as a ministry leader? We all have feelings about money in some way, but we need to understand what those are and insure that they don't corrupt your message to your donor. 

Action Item

Find a journal or something to write in, and spend a few minutes to write down why you love about development work and how you feel about money. You can start by answering these three questions:

  1. Do I feel like I'm wealth or poor?
  2. Does the idea of having more money motivate me to work harder or just makes me feel selfish and greedy?
  3. When I meet someone new, a donor perhaps, do I form an opinion of who they are based on my perceptions of their wealth.

You can write about anything you want, but hopefully these questions get you started. 


If you want to connect with Sarah, you can email her at [email protected] or send her a text or call at 512-845-1096.


If you have questions, or want to share a success story, email me at [email protected] or send us a Facebook message. We’re always happy to help. God bless.

Be bold and the Lord will provide. 


Sign up below to receive tools, ideas, and inspiration to take your development efforts to the next level.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.