Thread supports many of our partners with hiring new team members; it’s some of our favorite work. It thus felt like coming full circle when in early 2022 we got to apply our hiring best practices to our own talent search! We are delighted, thrilled, and over the moon to introduce Mackay Gunn and Andrew Edwards, Thread’s newest Directors. They are experts and fabulous fundraisers – not to mention fun!
Thread: Tell us a little bit about the path that has led you to work in nonprofit development.
Mackay: My very first summer job, as a junior in high school, was for a local nonprofit in my small hometown. While most of my friends were camp counselors or lifeguards, I had a few physical disabilities that meant I couldn’t look for those traditional summer jobs, and so I started to search for something else. I landed on a role that supported a nonprofit focused on providing financial and in-kind support to struggling mothers, and the rest is history, more than 20 years later! Aside from about four years in the for-profit world, I have been in nonprofits my entire career.
Andrew: I think it started way before I knew it actually did! My paternal grandmother had muscular dystrophy, dying when I was 4 years old and later, I was treated for a few years at a Children’s Hospital while I was in middle school. Fast forward to college and I helped run a student-led non-profit benefiting the same Children’s Hospital and was a summer camp counselor for kids with serious illness and disabilities. I knew I always wanted to help people from all of those experiences, and I got my start at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!
Thread: What are you excited to accomplish for Thread’s partners in the role of Director?
Mackay: So many of our partners are just starting out on their development journey. I am excited to get in on the ground floor and develop people, process, and technology that set our partners up for success for years to come. I want to ensure that I am providing our partners with the opportunity to learn and grow in their own spaces and the tools to do so; to teach them to fish rather than fry up their tuna for them, you know?
Andrew: Oh, definitely the possibilities! It’s really neat to think about the impact that fundraising can make for each mission. Every organization is unique and can be relatable to so many people, we just need the right resources, strategy, and direction to help us accomplish the goals and get our mission in front of more people.
Thread: What’s your favorite nugget of fundraising wisdom you’ve learned over the years?
Mackay: “Fundraising is not luck; it is the result of cultivating relationships and well-built processes and systems.”
Andrew: I have to pick just one?! There are so many to choose from. I think the best thing I’ve learned is that if you can’t describe the campaign or event in 20-30 seconds (the classic elevator pitch), it’s probably too complicated.
Thread: What trends in philanthropy and fundraising are you keeping an eye on these days?
Mackay: Not to beat a dead horse, but I feel the COVID pandemic has forced organizations to be much more thoughtful about how they initiate and develop relationships. The traditional, “Let’s go grab a coffee,” introductory meeting can’t be relied on as confidently as in the past. I think this idea that meaningful relationships can be built virtually is so important for future growth, and it opens up a whole new world of potential donors for organizations to explore.
Andrew: All things digital. Technology is changing the landscape of non-profit fundraising and it’s neat to see how cryptocurrency, SEO and SEM, and even new peer-to-peer social media and streaming campaigns are introducing new donors, data and amazing integrations to fundraise for so many different missions.
Thread: What’s something fun, interesting, or unusual from your personal life that helps you be a better fundraising professional?
Mackay: Growing up I was frequently in and out of hospitals, and I think at a young age my exposure to individuals experiencing challenging moments helped me to become a more empathetic person. That empathy enables me to relate to the missions and values of our partners easily, and I hope that is felt by everyone I work alongside!
Andrew: For me, I use two different passions regularly that help me with being in the fundraising world. #1: I love to bake. #2: I love to cycle and run. Or maybe I cycle and run because I bake? Who knows! But, both require a lot of similar ideas with fundraising – planning, organization and strategy. I don’t start baking without knowing my plan, timing, ingredients and equipment. Like that, I also plan my workouts to ensure that I’m optimizing my body and not overly using one muscle group every day. Plus, it always helps me to have passions that fuel my mental health, being able to better support my family and clients!