Pulling Back the Curtain: Defining Impact on the Fundraising Stage

Yolanda F. Johnson

As the first African-American leader of Women in Development, New York and a professional performer, Yolanda offers a unique perspective on how she defines impact on the fundraising stage.

“On the fundraising “stage,” performance practice comes in handy.”

It is an absolute pleasure and honor to prepare for my tenure as Women in Development, New York’s (WiD) first African-American president, as we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of this organization that is dear to my heart. There is certainly a lack of diversity in fundraising and development, and I am thrilled to do my part in precipitating concrete, positive change.

During this year as president-elect, I have joined forces with WiD President Brooke Bryant to establish the first-ever WiD Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. I am acutely aware of the saying that “We judge ourselves based upon our intentions; we judge others based upon their actions.” I see this adage revealed in everyday life, as I strive to make a profound impact and to put actions to words. This is an exciting time, as the Task Force is in the process of establishing several goals toward diversity and inclusion. We plan to implement these goals in the coming anniversary year and to launch several new initiatives for WiD.

In addition to my consulting practice and leadership role at WiD, I have found a way to “craft a life,” which also includes a career as a classically-trained vocalist. I am a lyric soprano. I have found that on the fundraising “stage,” performance practice comes in handy. In the words of William Shakespeare,

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.

Ms. Johnson offers two key performance-related tips to guide you through your next fundraising challenges:

1. Remember to Breathe
Breathing can be healing and can help with lowering stress. You may not realize it, but when nervous or upset, you can hold your breath far more than you realize.

2. Visualize Success
If you doubt that you can do something, that uncertainty can have a negative impact. You may allow that negativity to permeate your belief and change your thoughts of doubt into defeat. To counter the negativity, think positively. Whatever the outcome, be happy for it or learn from it, but do not let it define you. Keep moving in a positive direction, looking forward to your “next” venture.

Visit www.yfj-consulting.com and www.yolandafjohnson.com to read more about Yolanda F. Johnson’s work.