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Career Track

Name: Lamar Dixon

Why are you a fundraiser?
I wanted to work at a job that allowed me to help people who come from a similar background. I have benefited from some outstanding programs and wanted to contribute back to them.

How many years have you been in fundraising?
Professionally, for six months. However, it feels as though I have done many of the fundamentals of fundraising for almost 20 years, trying to solicit money from my family for different things.

In your own words, describe diversity.
Celebrating the unique differences all people inherently bring to the table.

What do you think fundraisers can do to include more diversity in the sector?
Have more willingness to accept alternate approaches to fundraising. It will take more creativity to grab the attention of future generations of donors.

What most concerns you about the profession?
Letting people know that philanthropy is a legitimate, credible profession.

What is the biggest challenge that fundraisers face today?
Competing with other interests for time and money. It seems that people have about a 30-second attention span.

What is the most difficult aspect of asking for a donation?
Learning what motivates donors and how their views relate to the mission statement you are working toward.

What is the key to a successful “ask”?
Knowing the donor’s ability and what motivates him or her into action. If you can get the person to smile, you are half way to making a successful ask.

Is there anything about fundraising that still surprises you?
The number of people involved in philanthropic endeavors. The enthusiasm people generate for a cause they truly believe in is contagious to those watching from the outside.

What do you wish you could do better than you do now?
Tell better stories during my presentations. I like to talk about different things, but painting that colorful picture is something I need to develop. 

What have your enjoyed most about being a fundraiser?
Putting new names to faces and discovering areas within philanthropy that can still be developed.

What have you liked the least about being a fundraiser?
Encountering people that feel disenfranchised from the job they do and how they are making a difference in the lives of the other.

Ideal donors are …
Approachable, but firm in their beliefs. Above all, I would have to say that donors should be willing to discuss how a project or campaign relates to their lives.

What advice would you give to a new fundraiser?
Be patient and develop a thick skin. Fundraising is like riding a roller coaster, so strap yourself in and enjoy the ride!

What is your motto?
Doing the same thing every day and expecting something different is insanity. 

What is the most essential quality of a good fundraiser?
Sincerity.

Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life, and why?
Trying to pull myself up by the bootstraps is what motivates me to provide a better standing for my family. They have given me focus that I didn’t posses before they were in my life. 

If you could invite three people to dinner, whom would you invite and where would you go to eat?
Mahatma Gandhi, Jacques Derrida and my wife. We would have dinner in Toronto, Canada, in a small restaurant called The Real Jerk (some of the best oxtail I’ve ever had).

Name at least three things you like to do when you’re not fundraising.
Golf, catch up with friends and when I’m really stressed, I bake.

If you hadn’t been a fundraiser, what would you like to have been?
A racecar driver or modified engine mechanic.

Lamar Dixon is donor relations manager with the United Way of Allen County in Fort Wayne, Ind. He works primarily in education, helping organize workforce campaigns with both K-12 schools and universities in the county. In addition, he will be part of a group to develop programming to attract and educate a younger generation of donors. He is writing a grant for leadership matching funds to increase the diversity of leadership givers in the community.

Dixon’s career highlights include the following:

  • Graduated as student body president
  • Worked on a double major in anthropology and philosophy, with a peace and conflict studies certificate.
  • Balances a marriage and three children under the age of five.
  • Helped organize the second AFP Collegiate Chapter in the United States at Indiana University—Purdue University Fort Wayne.
  • Currently is laying the foundation for a scholarship endowment at his university.

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