AFP Member Spotlight: Ken Kissick, Founder, Streets Alive Mission
August 14, 2018
Raised on a farm in Southern Manitoba and strongly influenced by his maternal grandfather, Ken learned the value of community and caring for your neighbor early in life. He has been married to Julie (the visionary and co-founder of Streets Alive Mission) for 46 years and together they have 3 children, 4 grandchildren and 4 labradoodles. Ken and Julie live in Lethbridge, Alberta, and in 2012 were both awarded the Queen’s Jubilee medal for their work with the less fortunate.
Name: Ken Kissick, CFRE
Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 28 years and counting. Looking forward to more as God permits.
A defining moment in the sector:
In 1990 my wife, Julie, and I began volunteer work with a new outreach of our church to the poor in the downtown core of Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1992 we were asked to oversee this work and begin a process to establish a vehicle that would broaden the outreach beyond that of a single church. We founded Streets Alive Family Support Association and by 1994 were completely independent. 12 years later, AFP Calgary Chapter came to Lethbridge with an “exploratory” luncheon at which Guy Mallabone spoke. It was during this session that I realized that the bulk of my job around raising support was actually a profession for which there was training. I joined AFP almost immediately, and I and our organization have not looked back since.
What topics need to be discussed/taught to further the fundraising profession?
I believe that I am not alone in being lost in the "operation" of small charities—not understanding that donor relations, communications, messaging of the cause are all part of fundraising. Also, we need to realize that fund development is a profession and that those who are in the profession are friends not enemies. There needs to be a focus of those in big shops (universities, hospitals, etc) reaching out and helping small charities. By doing so, philanthropy is increased as is the benefit to our communities. We need to teach and model that we are all in this together.
Describe a memorable #donorlove moment:
Time is the most valuable donation anyone can make. It is the only item of “time, talent and treasure” that is not renewable. Several years ago, a volunteer came to speak to me. She was a senior and on a modest income. She handed me a cheque for a small amount and apologized for not being able to give more, as being able to volunteer with us had given her life much needed meaning and purpose. I am always moved when people express how their lives are impacted. Also, anytime children are inspired to give is memorable—and there have been hundreds of these moments.
How important is mentoring to the nonprofit sector and/or to you personally?
Mentoring is the life blood of any organization. There are certain things that we learn only by experiencing them as we live life. Those who have been in any profession have much to transfer to those who are prepared to learn. Mentors challenge us to move outside our comfort zone and face our fears. My mentor challenged me to obtain my CFRE, something I thought was daunting, but once obtained made a marked difference in how I saw myself in the profession. Being a mentor also has learning built into it. An old dog can always learn a new trick.
How do you define leadership?
A true leader is one who humbly helps those around them to achieve their destiny in life and inspires them to be a better leader then they are.
Last perfect day off:
Did I miss a memo? There are supposed to be days off?
Actually, I try and practice something a mentor taught me years ago:
1) Divert daily: give your brain a break several times a day.
2) Withdraw weekly: make sure that you are taking at least one day where you are not doing work related to your profession.
3) Abdicate annually: take a vacation that gets you far enough away that you cannot return to deal with any work.
My perfect days off come every October when Julie and I go to a condo in Palm Springs for the whole month and do nothing except drink coffee, read dystopian books and sit in the hot tub, usually all three at the same time.