Donor Love Should be Number One

head shot of Patti OliverRecognize your donors at National Philanthropy Day

Patti Oliver, Development Officer Individual Giving, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity

Prior to beginning her career in fundraising, Patti Oliver’s passion for helping people began when she was a professional recruiter, working with families in need. For 25 years Patti helped low-income, single mothers and fathers in Wisconsin find jobs to support their families and improve their lives. “Their motivation was to make a good home for their children so that they could do better in school. These individuals were self-motivated and wanted to work hard to make a better life,” says Patti.

This resonated with Patti and when she realized that raising funds to help others in need was her calling, she began looking for a fundraising job and a mission that would engage her passion to help others have a better life. “I feel that everyone deserves a chance to have the American dream of living in a safe place, especially when there are children involved. The fundraising job at Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity was the perfect job for me.  Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity is a hand-up, not a handout” explains Patti.

Patti soon joined AFP. “My AFP membership has been a great experience. Listening from the best of the best in my field” explained Patti. “Everyone is excited about their mission. They share what works. I was glad to hear from other fundraisers that donor/volunteer love should be number one! I love our volunteers and our donors. They give and give and give to help others have a better life.”

In 2017 Patti recognized two of her volunteers and donors as Partners in Philanthropy leading up to National Philanthropy Day (NPD). This proved to be a great experience for both Patti and her donors. “I would highly encourage other fundraisers to recognize their own volunteers and donors at NPD,” says Patti. “It’s a great event for everyone. Our donors thoroughly enjoyed the day and they connected, as well, on a personal level. Seeing this happen with two donors that didn’t know each other previously was really wonderful.  Your donors and volunteers are your heroes. They love your mission. They give of their time and money to support your cause. My philosophy is that you can never thank your donors and volunteers enough for all they do. You could not accomplish your mission without them.” 

When asked what she found most valuable about attending NPD, Patti mentions the resources that she took away with her that day. She has implemented so much of what she learned in her daily work. But, what really hit home for Patti were the inspirational stories of others -- The donors who have given so much to support a cause and a nonprofit that they love. “They were so humble” explains Patti. “They shined the spotlight on others and they made such a difference.”  

Patti’s philosophy is that you can never thank someone too many times for their generosity and for the time and financial resources that they give to support your cause. “We learn from our donors that it is so much more satisfying to give than to receive. I work every day to raise money so we can help families have a safe and affordable home. Every child deserves to have a safe place to study and play and our donors make this possible” explains Patti. 

Patti seems to have found her niche. Helping families, connecting donors to her mission, and working together to improve the lives of others -- This is what it is all about if you ask Patti.