Faces of WID - December 2022

Women with straight blonde hair is wearing a cable knit gray sweater while looking directly at the viewer. Name:  Elizabeth Fitzsimons
Title & Organization: Associate Director of Advancement, The Pike School
WID Role: WIDGB member; Marketing and Communications Committee member
Hometown: Swarthmore, PA
Lives Currently: North Andover, MA
Education: Wellesley College
Hobbies: Hiking, paddling, reading, cooking

When and how did you join the development field? What path brought you to your current role? I joined the development team at the New England Aquarium as the Stewardship Officer in 2016, but I was connected to fundraising, stewardship, and donor engagement for many years before that in various roles at the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. I made the move to The Pike School in 2018.

Tell us a bit about the organization for which you currently work and why fundraising is important to it: The Pike School is a small independent school in Andover, MA. We welcome learners from Pre-K through 9th grade, and our current enrollment is 460 students. Pike is unique is so many ways, from our focus on lifelong connection and learning, to our commitment to authentically welcoming and celebrating diversity in our community. One way Pike is not unique is our funding model; like most independent schools, Pike’s tuition covers about 85% of the cost of educating our students. The rest of that cost is covered by philanthropy. That means that fundraising is a crucial piece of Pike’s budget each year.

Why did you join WIDGB? How long have you been a member? I joined WIDGB in 2018, when I started my role at The Pike School. My previous roles at the New England Aquarium had been focused solely on donor stewardship and engagement. When I moved to Pike I had the opportunity to take on aspects of fundraising that were completely new to me (writing appeals, digital fundraising, etc.) and I realized I needed resources, expertise, and support. In short… I needed a community! I was thrilled to find that community in WIDGB – it has been an incredibly valuable resource for me.

Do you have a favorite WID moment or memory? I was THRILLED to attend the June meeting last year featuring Natanja Craig-Oquendo, Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund – both to hear her amazing story, and to FINALLY be back in person with my WIDGB friends and colleagues. Fundraising people are relationship people, and it felt so good to foster my professional relationships in person again!

Describe your biggest development success story to date Or Can you share with us an inspiring development story from your career? At The Pike School I work with a very diverse donor community, many of whom are engaging with philanthropy for the first time and/or are approaching philanthropy from a different cultural background than mine. Every time I am able to connect with a donor and engage them in an authentic way so that they can see themselves as a philanthropist feels so good to me! Even though it happens a lot, it is still a thrill every time – I love a first-time gift!

What advice would you offer to someone new in the field of development? Fundraising is about the long game, so don’t forget to take a step back and look beyond the weekly, monthly, yearly, or even campaign goal. It’s easy to get caught up in what your organizations needs are TODAY, but don’t forget to focus on the steps that build healthy long-term giving relationships for the future (I sure do sound like a stewardship person, here!)


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