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Full Speed Ahead! Lessons from the Fast Lane in Taking Your Small Shop to the Next Level

Resource Center - Foundation

Amy WolfeAgSafe is a small shop that’s the education leader for the farming industry in California and Arizona, providing safety, health, human resources and food safety solutions.  In the last five years they’ve increased the number of farm workers trained in California and Arizona by 590 percent! 

Spearheading that growth is CEO and President Amy Wolfe. AFP had a chance recently to chat with Amy about small shop growth and success, the topic of her upcoming webinar on May 10

Q:  Why choose to work in a small shop vs. a big shop?

A:  It didn't begin as an intentional decision.  I needed a job, and the best opportunity available was in a small shop.  Now I am drawn to a few unmistakable small shop traits: a) the challenge (we say work is many things, but boring isn't one of them), b) the close connection to the mission (an inevitability with limited staff), and c) the chance to work in all facets of development.  I like that I am currently tacking a capital, endowment and annual campaign.

Q:  What do you think the percentage is of CEOs for small shops who are also the development directors?

A:  All of them should be tackling development to some extent if they are leading by best practices.  That aside, based on my interactions with the AFP membership over the years, I believe at least 30 percent tackle both.

Q:  What was the biggest challenge your organization dealt with when it grew?

A:  Deciding what opportunities to pursue.  We would lament having the "problem" of too many options to pick from.  Some might question our perspective, but we figured out early on that quantity is just as big of a challenge as quality.  We had to create a rigorous decision-making paradigm to evaluate our options and then make the most strategic choice. 

Q:   If a small shop can only focus on one element of fundraising, what should that element be?

A:  Individual giving.  I actually have a post it on my computer monitor reminding me "when in doubt, connect to people." It's my way of reminding myself that when I'm being pulled in too many different development directions, or if I'm tempted to try too many new strategies or pennies are tight, always focus on individual gifts.  Face-to-face interaction has always proven to be the most fruitful use of the time and resources invested.

Q:  What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a new(ish) mom? 

A:  Balance is a crock!  It's all about juggling and that inevitably means I'll drop a ball from time to time.  But it also means I'll pick things back up and start all over again.  I'm also learning (certainly haven't mastered because I'm undoing years of bad habits) to be present and focused in the moment.  When I'm at work, I focus on work and not my grocery list.  When I'm home with my husband and daughter, they get my attention (and I let the iPhone sit in my purse).  At the end of the day, regardless of how much I love it, it's just a job and my family should always come first.

To find out more about stewarding your small shop to the next level,  join us for Amy’s webinar on May 10, 2016 at 1:00 PM Eastern: “Full Speed Ahead!  Lessons from the Fast Lane in Taking Your Small Shop to the Next Level”. 



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