ADRP President's Message

January 2020

If you’re like me, you want to lead a life of significance and joy. You want to make a difference in the professional world and leave it better. So how do we prevent drifting and instead design a career conducive to continued learning, engagement and impact? How do we continue to be both present and futuristic with limited time and resources?

Successful people and organizations find ways to stay ahead of the curve. A curve that is moving rapidly and becoming increasingly complex. As donor relations professionals, it is imperative that we stay connected and informed. And our greatest resource is each other.

Network and engage at conferences, local events, trainings and on social media. From ADRP’s listserv to the apps on your phone to the social networks you check a dozen times a day, life and business are fueled by connections—all are opportunities to engage with colleagues and experts. The more you invest in connections, the greater the return. Discussing your industry face-to-face with peers can be particularly enlightening. Much like teaching, we often learn the most and become more confident when preparing for a presentation or meeting. You don’t have to be an expert to teach or present. We all have value and personal experiences that make conversations more meaningful and richer.

Make sure to speak with aspirant peers as well as colleagues. These two groups often have very different perspectives, and both are valuable. Sometimes you’ll want to zig when others zag, but looking to see what your aspirant peers are doing can sometimes help you spot emerging trends. And PLEASE don’t limit yourself to your industry. Health care professionals can learn from donor relations experts in the art industry, and higher ed can learn from museum professionals. In fact, I often learn more from specialists outside of my industry, as they challenge me to think differently and more creatively.

Finally, as important as it is to stay connected and up to speed on new techniques and trends in the profession, it’s equally important to stay inspired. What inspires you? Some of my inspiration comes from reading. These are just a handful of the books on my shelf. Words from leaders, life coaches, psychologists, historical fiction authors and biographies all inspire me. I get energy from their stories of passion, overcoming and courage.

Michal Shaw
ADRP President, 2019–2020