Fundraising as a Second Career – I Did It!

Dee Dee Sung

By Dee Dee Sung

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of reinvention and I can certainly vouch for that. Making a decision to transition from the for-profit into the non-profit sector in 2009 was a really big hill to climb. I literally had to reinvent myself and transfer my skill sets in sales and marketing to the arena of fundraising. The first task at hand was to determine exactly how to present my specific skills when I was brand-new to fundraising.

Phil Gerard was one of the first people I met with to start the ‘how to’ conversation and ever since, he has been my advocate as I evolved into my current role in planned giving at Simon Fraser University. During a recent visit, Phil asked me to write a post touching on key strategies I employed to get me from where I was to where I wanted to be. 


Self Aware important to know yourself, both strengths and limitations. When you’re clear on where you want to be and you stay focused, your confidence will rise and you will attract the role that’s best for you.

Tenacity – seek progress over perfection, stay in motion, be intentional, and be willing to reside outside of your comfort zone. Above all, stay the course especially in times when it feels like nothing is moving forward.

Education – laying the foundation for success is greatly enhanced by a commitment to lifelong learning. Plan to pair up with a mentor or coach and enroll in as many fundraising specific programs as necessary to prepare you for your next role.

Preparedness & Patience –have a clear plan in mind and be sure to set some ‘stretch’ goals; one’s which challenge yet don’t overwhelm you.

Support – create your success team including mentors, advisors and cheerleaders who will support you on your journey. Always be respectful of the time and talent they will be sharing with you.

Pursuing a new position calls for keeping yourself inspired and finding ways to keep your motivational switch in the ON position – not always an easy feat when the road of daily living is guaranteed to bring its’ twists and turns along the way. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, break the task at hand into smaller chunks and remember that it’s about progress not perfection. Once you’ve arrived at the position that’s right for you, realize that your work has just begun. You will have worked diligently to land your next role and it will be important to make sure you demonstrate the capabilities you were hired for. Continuing to use the S.T.E.P.S outlined above will ensure that you stay on the road to success!

Dee Dee Sung is the Associate Director of Planned Giving at Simon Fraser University. She is a CAGP Vancouver Chapter Executive member as well as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Saint James Music Academy, an organization creating social transformation through the power and love of music for children in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Passionate about building bridges in the community and committed to lifelong learning, she recently completed her MBA at SFU and has been fully engaged in applying her knowledge from the program to the non-profit sector. Email:, LinkedIn:
Twitter: @deedeesung

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