Antonia Kalmacoff. Manager of Philanthropic Giving at Covenant House. MBA with a Non-Profit Job.
Antonia is a “career switcher”, transitioning from a professional in the entertainment industry to one in non-profit, via an MBA. Antonia’s current meaningful job is at Covenant House Toronto, an organization that provides shelter and programs for homeless youth. Working on the leading edge of philanthropy, she manages a large portfolio of donors from Corporate Partners to Major Gifts. A seemingly 180 degree shift from her past in production and development for Hollywood films, working in philanthropy was a confluence of timing and opportunity, but the shift in career has not been as different as you might think.
How do you define meaningful work?
It’s hard to put the definition in a box, but a meaningful career is about where you can have the most impact, affect the most change.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a meaningful career?
Growing up, my father’s career advice had always been to, “find something you love and you’ll be successful”.
How did your past experiences help you get to where you are today?
All my past job experiences combined with a traditional business education, gave me a broad skill set to draw on. The six years I spent working in development and film production helped refined my storytelling, which is helpful when speaking to donors or crafting funding proposals. Ultimately, it’s not that different than pitching a movie. You have a very short time in which to make an impression and need to quickly gauge what will have the most emotional resonance for your audience.
How did you get your current meaningful job?
I got the interview by submitting my resume to a job posting. However, a lot of thought was put into the cover letter, making sure to highlight how my past experience would be applicable to Covenant House and not just a fundraising position in general. I also leveraged my network of friends and associates to get in touch with individuals who understood how Covenant House worked and who could serve as my references.
What’s one thing you wish someone told you before you pursued a meaningful job?
That no matter how much you believe in your cause, asking for money can be very difficult. It’s hard not to take declined gifts personally.
What’s one thing most people wouldn’t expect to hear about working in a meaningful job?
The amount of MBA-learned skills that I use on a daily basis. From strategic planning to game theory to statistics and research. I love that I get to apply what I learned from my MBA in my job working with corporate partners, foundations and Major Gifts.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your meaningful job?
All Covenant House operations are housed in two large buildings. I come to work through the same emergency shelter entrance as the kids who access our services. Getting to see the direct impact my work has on a daily basis is an extraordinary thing.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get a meaningful job?
Don’t just apply for jobs because they are in the non-profit sector. In order to be an effective advocate, you have to have some sort of personal connection to the cause.
Where do you see the sector in 10 years?
One of the interesting trends is the decline of the traditional corporate granting program and a new focus on partnerships that raise money for the non-profit, but also have tremendous economic benefit for the corporate entity. For example, Bell’s campaign for mental health is unique. It’s aligned to a cause and not a charity. Bell, while raising awareness of mental health issues in Canada also captures tremendous benefits from increased traffic and brand awareness.
If you could have one super hero power what would it be and why?
Teleporting. I love to travel and would enjoy popping over to Morocco for a weekend.