We are excited to introduce Sara LaCava Lieberman as Thread’s newest Principal. Sara is passionate about fundraising as movement building and supporting people to be confident fundraisers and ambassadors for their cause. Sara has over fifteen years of fundraising experience and a track record of helping organizations achieve significant and sustainable fundraising growth as a staff member, board member, and consultant.
Thread: Tell us about your path to working in nonprofit development.
I had a work study job as part of my financial aid package in college. I went to the jobs board (yes it was a literal board) and saw that the phonathon was the second highest paying job after being an art model. I had no idea fundraising would turn into my career, but so much of what I learned there still informs my work today.
One of my biggest lessons was that having fun at work is not antithetical to getting the job done, it’s essential to it. When we build trust within our workplaces and with our donors, fundraising is not just a way to raise resources, it’s a way to build community.
Thread: What are you excited to accomplish for Thread’s partners in the role of Principal?
Of course I’m excited to help our partners raise more money so that they can have greater impact in their communities. But I’m also excited about working with you as people, and not just organizations. I want people to feel good about coming to work because they are fundraising in a way that aligns with their values, they have the tools they need to be successful, and they have a supportive team in their corner, of which Thread is a part!
Thread: In addition to working in nonprofit development, you have served on nonprofit boards. How has your board service made you a better fundraiser?
My board service has proved to me that you don’t need to know a lot of rich people to be great at fundraising! Both organizations whose boards I have served on were all-volunteer run at the time of my service and both were mostly made up of young women and nonbinary people who themselves worked in the nonprofit sector. At the New York Abortion Access Fund, we raised a quarter of a million dollars in a peer-to-peer campaign one year. I really believe that anything is possible if you’re willing to ask and you’re passionate about the cause.
Thread: What tips would you give to nonprofit leaders to better engage board members in organizational leadership and fundraising year-round? And, vice versa, what tips would you give to board members to better support nonprofit leaders?
You are looking for cooperation, not just compliance. And that begins with authentic relationship. We need to put energy and intention into building relationships between board members and between board and staff. Just like in fundraising, if your approach is more transactional, it won’t be as successful.
Thread: We are headed into end-of-year fundraising season. What are your tips for how nonprofits can better engage board members in supporting EOY fundraising efforts?
In an ideal world, you start engaging board members well before year end. A development plan and a strategic plan are the foundations for board members to see how the organization is going to raise the resources to achieve their goals.
But when we’re trying to achieve change we tend to focus a lot on behaviors and not enough on feelings. There are a lot of emotions tied to money in this country and we have to acknowledge that and work through it together.
Thread: What’s something fun, interesting, or unusual from your personal life that helps you be a better fundraising professional?
I’m a mom to a four-year-old. As I have learned more about “conscious parenting,” I have seen so many overlaps with the management courses I have taken. At the end of the day, whether it’s boards, donors, colleagues, or family, we’re all people and the skillsets needed for great relationship management are not all that different.