June Member Spotlight
AFP GLAC Member Spotlight – June 2017
With Edward Lin, JD, CFRE
Julia Scheibmeir has been an active member of AFP GLAC for three years, and has served on the Board of Directors as Chair of Young Professionals and Co-Chair of Communications. Julia has been a professional fundraiser for five years and is currently Director, Advancement at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
Q. Julia, your career trajectory has been truly impressive: how did you get into fundraising?
A. Well, I started at a small nonprofit right out of college working 12 hours a week as a Conference Coordinator, and it felt amazing. I didn’t know fundraising, had no prior experience, but after just a month, the Development Director pulled me into helping with the golf tournament and the gala. It was a whirlwind and I loved it. When my boss left the organization, I became the sole fundraiser and there was a lot of pressure on me. My learning curve was helped immensely by my involvement with AFP, though. With time, I was promoted from Development Coordinator to Development Director.
Q. You went from that small organization to USC: was it difficult to make the transition into higher education?
A. It’s very different. But it was really an exciting change to go from wearing so many hats, running everything -- events, annual fund, social media -- to having a, narrower, more specific role. USC is great with professional development and sent me to Dartmouth for a crash course in university fundraising, which really helped.
Q. What is most rewarding about your job?
A. I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. I spend a good amount of time with engineers, meeting entrepreneurial types, people who have become associated with big companies and now want to give back to the University. It’s very interesting work. The Trojan family is very loyal, and the donors I work with are always happy to meet with me.
Q. As a Bruin, it pains me a bit to hear that. But I’m very happy for you.
Q. What do you find most challenging?
A. Expectations are high. We have been very successful in past and have ambitious leaders with big vision – so, we’re tasked with large annual goals. There was definitely a learning curve coming from a small nonprofit. But working with a great team and with resources available, you learn and gain confidence quickly.
Q. You’ve been active in AFP – why?
A. The Development Director at my first job encouraged me to join and get involved because he felt membership had been valuable for him. Initially, I didn’t get the point of networking with other fundraisers, people doing the same work. But I understood when I attended my first AFP-GLAC holiday party. Wayne Heron became my unofficial mentor, and Amanda Rothstein tapped me to run the Young Professionals group. The more I’ve gotten to know the people involved, the more I’ve enjoyed my work in chapter leadership.
Q. How else has AFP membership been helpful to you?
A. When I was at that small nonprofit, being able to talk-out challenges with others who understood and were in same position was big relief and very helpful. It’s a network of smart, experienced people you can call with questions. I was offered a chapter leadership role that has been very rewarding, and I really enjoyed working with that group. I was also a Chamberlain Scholarship recipient which enabled me to attend the international conference in Boston. And my AFP involvement – networking at the Advanced Executive Forum -- led me to my job at USC! So, a lot of bang for the buck.
Q. What advice do you have for your fellow fundraising professionals?
A. Always keep the mission close at heart. We dedicate our lives to the causes we represent and promote. As long as you feel passion for the mission, you’re in a good position to be a wonderful representative of your organization. Once you no longer feel it so strongly, though, it’s probably time to step-back and look at where you can put your full passion. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but in university fundraising there are resources and you’re able to reach people on big scale. I’ve worked in big and small: there are ways to be a fundraiser and engage your passion that are not so personally taxing.
Q. This has been a very interesting conversation, Julia. Thanks so much!
A. My pleasure, Ed!
For more of the many reasons to join AFP GLAC: http://www.afpglac.afpnet.org/Member/content.cfm?ItemNumber=5905&navItemNumber=5340