This post is the sixth in a series of Q&A sessions with friends, former colleagues, acquaintances and other contacts who I consider both influential and inspirational. Each of these individuals possesses a skillset that I believe you will find valuable. They have each made an impact throughout my career path and I wanted to feature them in this series.
Name: Lora Wey (@LoraWey)
Profession: Executive Director of Annual Giving at Illinois State University
I was first introduced to Lora Wey when doing research and prospecting for Verge Pipe Media, working to connect with those working in higher education annual giving. As an alum of Illinois State, I was thrilled to make a new connection with my alma mater and learn about their recent successes on Giving Tuesday. In fact, I profiled Lora previously to get her first-person perspective on how to run a successful giving day effort. You can read that article here.
Since our first interactions, Lora has been a great resource and sounding board for me on a variety of topics. She is one of the best in her industry and I am thankful that she is representing my alma mater and helping it become the preeminent public university in Illinois. I hope you enjoy the following tidbits and advice from Lora Wey.
1) How does your current profession align with the degree you graduated with? If you have held other jobs, how closely have they been aligned?
My degree was in international business and Spanish. I’ve worked in higher education since I graduated college. Although not directly related to my degree, my liberal arts education and affinity for working with people prepared me well to learn the art and science of fundraising.
2) What did you ‘plan to do’ after college and how close is that to what you’re doing at this point in your career? Were there any deviations along the way and did they help/hurt your path to your current job?
I worked as an admissions counselor at my alma mater as my first job out of college. I knew I loved the school and was passionate about the college experience. I have never had a desire to leave higher education since. I have worked in this profession for 29 years.
3) What’s your best piece of advice for today’s entry-level candidates?
My advice is that your first job will not be your last. Be open to the experience and gain as much knowledge and experience as you can. It will be your springboard to the next chapter in your professional career.
4) What do like the most about your profession?
I like that our work changes lives every day. Not just the lives of students, but donors lives as well.
5) What is the biggest challenge you face in your profession today?
We can no longer depend on just a few channels of communication to resonate with donors. With the increased amount of not for profits and changing technology, we are forced to stay ahead of the curve in terms or messaging and creativity so that we remain a relevant giving priority to our alumni and potential donors.
6) How has your industry changed during your time as a professional?
The biggest change is fewer donors giving more dollars. In order to sustain the pipeline, we need to grow our donor base. Telephone and direct mail are just a few of the many channels of communication in which we must be present. In addition, we no longer employ a one message fits all donors campaign. We must segment strategically in order to capture the attention of our audience.
7) Why do people leave your field or company? Do you agree with why they leave?
Perhaps they think more money can be made elsewhere. Many schools are experiencing financial hardship causing frozen wages. It becomes demoralizing to staff not to be rewarded year after year for your efforts.
8) Are you considering leaving your current field or company?
If I choose to leave it would not be for financial reasons, but for a different professional opportunity within higher education.
9) What is your favorite social media platform?
Facebook…I’m 50 years old and my friend base doesn’t utilize Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc. 🙂
10) What was the last book you read? The last TED talk or other e-learning content you consumed?
I am currently reading You Win In The Locker Room First by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith. Our leadership team is reading and reflecting on how their advice is relevant in the work we do as managers.
11) Where do you receive your news and information
Of the choices you gave us (Print Newspaper, Online Newspaper, TV, Twitter, Facebook or other) I definitely get my news from online newspapers and my Facebook feed.
12) What are your hobbies? Do you wish you had more time to pick up a hobby?
I volunteer with several not for profits in my community as an advisor to fundraising or mentoring. It energizes me.