Track Profile: Demetria Caston,
Fund Development and Project Management Professional at
The Caston Group in Lancaster, Texas
many years have you been in fundraising?
Since November 2000.
What achievements are you most proud of in your
I raised more than $11 million for a nonprofit that operates
charter schools to help with opening new schools, endowment
and college preparation programming support.
What have you enjoyed most about being a fundraiser?
The opportunity to share a story with others and invite
them to be a part of doing something good, effecting positive
change in the community.
What have you liked the least about being a fundraiser?
When the economy is uncertain, people hold on to their checkbooks.
What is your motto?
“Plan your work and work your plan.”
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your
life, and why?
While a freshman at Xavier University of Louisiana, my parents
were not able to pay the balance remaining at the end of
my first semester. One evening I received a phone call from
the student accounts office to advise me that I had received
a $1,000 scholarship that would cover the remaining balance.
I was so relieved and thankful to the organization that
assisted me to further my education. Many don’t realize
how much a gift of $1,000 can truly affect a person’s
life in the larger scheme of it all. That affected my life
so much that I decided not to attend medical school but
to work in university development to assist students the
same way I was assisted more than 15 years ago.
Name at least three things you like to do when
you’re not fundraising.
Spending time with family, working out (indoor cycling or
weight training), doll collecting and reading.
If you hadn’t been a fundraiser, what would
you like to have been?
A psychologist or psychiatrist.
In your own words, describe diversity.
Diversity is the ability to see beyond the outside and dig
deeper into what truly is.
What are the barriers to deeper diversity within
fundraising and the nonprofit sector?
I believe a major barrier to diversity in our field is the
simple introduction of development as an “actual career.”
For too many years it has not been viewed as a profession,
when in fact it is one that requires a well-polished set
of skills, experience and expertise in order to be successful.
What do you think fundraisers can do to foster
deeper inclusion in fundraising and the nonprofit sector?
Inclusion in the field of development can be accomplished
by introducing the profession to high school and college
students as an option, especially to those with goals to
work in social sectors. Also, increasing the number of colleges
and universities that offer degree programs or even certificate
programs in nonprofit management and leadership, in collaboration
with local and national nonprofit centers and professional
organizations, would assist in fostering deeper inclusion
What most concerns you about the profession?
The ability to diversify, both ethnically and in age.
What is the key to a successful “ask”?
Always know whom you are asking for what and also when and
how to ask. Strategically plan for the ask—whether
monetary or in-kind.
Is there anything about fundraising that still
The lack of minorities in the field.
Ideal donors are …
Those who are open-minded to hear your story, understand
your needs and share your sentiments, whether they are able
to monetarily give at that time or not. Their in-kind contributions
may be just as valuable.
What advice would you give to a new fundraiser?
Seek out a mentor who can offer sage advice throughout your
career. Keep career development as a top priority, through
AFP, AHP or other similar organizations. Learn to network
amongst the best so strategic partnership opportunities
are always at your fingertips.
What is the most essential quality of a good fundraiser?
Being able to form solid relationships with internal and
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