Anne Connelly. Director of Fundraising and Marketing. Dignitas International
For those of us who dream of combining our love of travel and adventure with work will be inspired by Anne’s career story. Throughout her career, and most recently with Dignitas International, Anne has combined her passion with purpose, a value we promote strongly at Bmeaningful. We love her insider tips on a career in non-profit, helping you escape the herd to use your skills for good and become a Purple Sheep – just like her. And let’s be honest the world needs more Anne’s.
In a nutshell can you describe your job and what a typical day looks like?
My job centers around people. I spend most of my day liaising with my team, our board members, and our donors. Each group plays a very specific role in ensuring our operations in Malawi have the resources they need to continue helping our patients.
What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to pursue more meaningful work?
I never really had an ‘aha’ moment. It was more the case that I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.
How has your career path led to your current job?
My whole career began as a fusion of my passions for travel and for health.
In undergrad, I worked with an organization that did health promotion projects around the world. As I became increasingly involved in the management of the organization, I realized how important it was to not only have passion, but to have the skills to match. This led me to pursue my MBA.
I did an internship with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, and after graduation, I applied for a field position. I was soon posted to Central African Republic to work on an emergency pediatric malnutrition and malaria project. I returned from the field and continued in their Toronto and Dublin offices.
At that point, I was looking to shift to an organization with longer-term vision. One that would achieve results that, while not necessarily immediate, were more sustainable and lastingly impactful. In April of last year, I started as Director of Fundraising and Marketing with Dignitas International.
What in your current job are you most proud of?
I remember my proudest moment very distinctly. One of our nurses, Alice Kadzanja, came to Canada from Malawi in November to speak to our donors about her experience living with HIV. She had never given presentations before, and one of her first speeches was to a group of 700 rowdy teenage boys. She got up on stage and spoke with a subtle confidence about how thanks to Dignitas, her grandson had been born HIV free. At the end of her talk, the room erupted with applause, and she was given a standing ovation. Alice was overjoyed, and told me how nice it was to see that so many people cared about Malawi.
What advice would you give someone looking to stand-out from the crowd?
I like it when a candidate’s skills speak for themselves. For example, if they claim to be knowledgeable in social media, then I would expect to find their personal twitter feed to be active and tweeting about Dignitas. If they claim to be good at stewardship, then I would expect an application with no typos or errors that eloquently tells their personal story. More than anything, I find that the candidates who stand out the most are those who have taken the time to know and understand the organization and demonstrate that knowledge in their application.
What do you look for in a candidate?
The best advice I ever received for hiring in the small business setting was, ‘you can train almost anyone to do almost anything, but you can’t train someone to have personality’. This particularly rings true at Dignitas – we’re a small but dedicated team, one that works collaboratively and cross-functionally on a regular basis. As a result, team fit and the ability to learn new skills is extremely important.
What is your favourite interview question?
I like to ask candidates how they would tackle issues that we’re currently facing at the organization. It’s a great way to see their problem solving skills in action and better understand the process they follow when evaluating challenges.
What skills and/or qualities are important to have for job in non-profit?
The most critical skill in the not-for-profit world is flexibility. Whether you’re in the field or in headquarters, situations can change quickly and without warning. Dignitas is a very nimble organization – we regularly take ideas from conception to execution in a matter of days or even hours. This allows us to accomplish great things, but requires that everyone remains flexible and adaptable to the changing situation.
Interested in working at Dignitas and for Anne? You are in luck, they are currently hiring a Major Gifts Manager – applications close January 17th.