From the Desk of the Development Manager:

“I wish I’d had PFO when I was a teen!”

I know it’s a familiar sentiment for many of you, and it was one of my first thoughts when I began to dig into the Playing for Others program to prep for my interview with Jen. What if I’d started to build these skills – leadership, organization, self-awareness – when I was 16? What if I’d had the confidence and the opportunity to sit down with potential donors at 17? Where would I have been by 18? I think I started to answer those questions after attending my first-ever PFO event, where I had the opportunity to see firsthand how the teens put the skills they fostered in PFO to use.

Through their PFO experiences – the Buddy Program, Color War, live performances and visual art – many teens get inspired to learn more about the “business side” of PFO and what it takes to make sure that these great experiences are available to teens from all walks of life. PFO’s Golden Giving Circle, or GGC, gives these teens the opportunity to be an active part of raising funds for our Scholarship Fund. Teens sit down with potential donors, share about their PFO experience and the impact it’s had, and then make a clear ask.

My first PFO event had me sitting in on a GGC presentation, and I was instantly impressed with how the teens carried themselves while making the ask. They were confident, assured and powerful in their advocacy for PFO. It’s no surprise to me that every person who’s sat down with teens at a GGC meeting has pledged to give. Just so far this year, PFO teens have raise $20,990 of the $50,000 GGC goal!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, because it was my first thought, too: if the teens can do this, does PFO really need Greg Raynor to be their Development Manager?! Fortunately for me, the answer is YES! (Thank you, school year!)

As a fundraising professional, I can attest to the value of the skills it requires to successfully present to a potential donor, get a monetary commitment from them, and continue to have a relationship with them. It takes confidence, emotional intelligence, investment in the cause and a genuine passion for philanthropy. The fact that PFO cultivates these skills in the future leaders who will shape our community in Charlotte (and beyond!) gives me hope.

During my time at PFO, I certainly hope to continue strengthening my own set of skills, learning from the teens and my co-workers. I hope to build friendships with the people around me. When I reflect on my first introductions to PFO, I will always remember how kind everyone was, and how funny the teens were when interacting with me. I will always remember two teens knocking a GGC presentation out of the water, leaving the adults around them stunned. I knew immediately that PFO was a special place that did excellent work, and I am thrilled that I get to claim this team and organization as family. Let’s get to the business of growing!