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Why I Serve – Catherine Fynes

Catherine Fynes joined Benefactor Group in 2008 bringing with her nearly 25 years of experience in not-for-profit professional and volunteer management, fundraising, marketing, and media relations. She has developed and implemented annual giving campaigns, planned giving programs, special events, capital campaigns, and direct mail solicitations. She has secured numerous grant awards from foundations and corporations.

Today, we take a special look at Cathy’s work and the special contributions she brings to every account that she is a part of. Read on to learn more…

Tell us about yourself.

Since 1989, I’ve raised funds for a variety of causes: children with life-threatening diseases; women and girls; racism; at-risk youth. As a senior consultant with Benefactor Group, I am privileged to share the skills I have acquired to coach, mentor, and inspire our clients to achieve their goals.

How did you get involved in serving nonprofit organizations?

Like many fundraisers of my era, I got involved in fundraising by accident. When my children were small in the early 1980s, I founded a nonprofit with a group of my friends. Then, as a volunteer with the Junior League in Toledo where I orchestrated the largest fundraiser at that time, I was recruited as a part-time event coordinator for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. From there, my career in fundraising was born…it led to the YWCA, Girl Scouts, and Boys & Girls Clubs in various roles: marketing director, development director, executive director twice.

I have a knack for organizing and leading…even captaining a tennis team for 10 years as well as leading large volunteer organizations that included two Association of Fundraising Professionals chapters in Toledo and Columbus. I’ve received numerous local and national awards and recognitions over the years for marketing, communications, and fundraising.

What inspires you to serve the common good?

Three events influenced my decision to leave investigative reporting to work in the nonprofit sector.

  1. While standing in line at a Woolworth’s store as a college student, I failed to offer money to an obviously sick man who came up short to buy over-the-counter medicine. To this day, I still see his face, feel shame, and vowed that I would never not help someone in need.

  2. As a third-grader impatient with classmates who needed additional attention from teachers to grasp content, my mother reminded me that it takes all kinds of people with all kinds of skills to make a community work…and that everyone has value.

  3. As a divorcee with two small children, I needed a job that allowed me the flexibility to raise them, attend their events, and be present for their most important activities.

What everyday thing are you good at that might surprise people?

I am happiest when I am outdoors. So, when I’m not at Benefactor Group or with clients, you can find me in my yard where my pond, creek, trees are filled with birds, deer, ducks, skunks, groundhogs, minks, foxes, an occasional coyote, and Egret. Being with nature renews me—even while cutting the grass, gardening, raking the mountain of leaves, and yes, shoveling snow!

One word that best describes how you work?

“Always”—thanks Steve! (I really do need to do something about that.)

What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?

As president of AFP, and a member of the International AFP board, I recommend AFP’s new and improved website, It’s the professional’s go-to source for research, professional development, webinars, stories, etc. Check it out.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Can’t” never did anything and “won’t” is too lazy to try.

What gives you hope for the future of philanthropy over the next 5 years?

I’m encouraged that more and more universities are offering coursework in nonprofit management and fundraising and that young people are seeing this work as noble, honorable and vitally important to keep communities strong. And, with the new leadership at AFP International, there is a laser focus on developing the next generation of leaders as this profession faces a looming exodus of thousands of nonprofit leaders and fundraisers in the next 15 years.

To learn more about Cathy, read her bio by clicking here.

If you’d like to speak to Cathy about your next project, don’t hesitate to email her at [email protected].

is a proud member of the Giving Institute. The Giving Institute is a member association that promotes the evolution of the professional fundraising field and philanthropy. Since 1935, the Giving Institute and its member firms have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence, and leadership in advancing philanthropy.

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