AFP Member Spotlight: Maggie Woo
November 14, 2018
Maggie Woo is a senior development officer on the principal giving team at McMaster University. She is part of a high performing team dedicated to securing transformational gifts for the university. Before serving on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Horseshoe Chapter as secretary and treasurer, she was involved with many chapter committees. Maggie is a Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.
Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: I have been working and volunteering with nonprofits for over seven years.
What was your first job or defining moment in the sector?
I had been working as a student at McMaster University during my undergraduate studies and volunteering as a student representative for the DeGroote Commerce Society. In this volunteer role, I worked with many alumni and donors. Through my connections, I started working as a development intern in University Advancement after graduation. This was an amazing experience and my eyes were opened to the possibility of a career in fundraising.
Describe your desk/workspace.
I work in an open concept office with like-minded colleagues in the heart of downtown Hamilton. When I am in the office and not on visits, I am fortunate enough to witness the revitalization of the city’s core. I think my colleagues would say that I am a minimalist and organized, but I can’t lie, I do have a few paper files on my desk.
What topic needs to be discussed to further the fundraising profession?
I think the topic of corporate philanthropy is interesting. Corporations are becoming more sophisticated in the areas they choose to fund. They are looking to partner with organizations with shared value initiatives and want to be able to quantify the benefits of being socially responsible. Fundraisers and nonprofit organizations need to look for new and creative ways to engage with funders and be able to deliver and report on more quantitative data, while also being able to translate the qualitative benefits of a corporation’s support.
Describe a memorable learning moment.
I have many stories about great gifts, but my most memorable moment was about the connections and relationships that I have built with generous and wonderful people I get to meet each day. Earlier this year I went to see a donor and suggested going out for lunch. This donor had recently given up driving, which was difficult for him. He had been taking taxis to all of his outings. When I went to pick up the donor he gave me a big hug with a few tears in his eyes and thanked me for picking him up. What you should know is that the donor’s personality is to just give and help others. He would never ask for help. The donor was so happy that I would offer to drive him to lunch so that he would not need to take a taxi. It was such a small gesture that I would do for anyone. What I learned that day is that a gesture can sometimes be worth more than any physical gift you can give.
Recommendations for nonprofit sector / professional development reading.
Currently, I am reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. It’s not a new book, but I think it’s a good one. Next up, I’ll probably read a current book like Fear by Bob Woodward because it is important to read things that your colleagues or donors are reading as you never know when you can build a connection over a book.
What leadership trait do you value?
Defining leadership is hard because I have met so many great leaders in my career so far. However, there is one trait that all great leaders have: motivation. Once you have that, you can find a vision, the drive to take calculated risks and the will to succeed in leading and guiding others. Motivated leaders are usually creative because they have the courage to take different paths and try new things in order to get to where they are.
How do you recharge?
I recharge in so many different ways because every day is different. Sometimes a conference and sharing ideas with peers will recharge me for the year. However, I also like to run, preferably outside (weather permitting). Being creative through cooking, baking, woodworking and floral art are other great ways to refresh. But sometimes simply watching some Netflix shows with my family and friends is all I need.