Member Spotlight: Gayle Roberts

Gayle Roberts, Chief Development Officer, Larkin Street Youth Services

As head of development for the Bay Area’s largest nonprofit dedicated to ending youth homelessness, Gayle Roberts and her team of 10 fundraisers are responsible for raising $7.6 million annually for Larkin Street Youth Services.  She is also part of a team responsible for a three-year public-private campaign lead by the City of San Francisco to raise $31 million for youth homeless services.

With 16-years of experience as a development professional, she has seen many changes in the field over the years. For her personally, the most important has been around the field’s more positive attitude towards trans people.

She explains, “When I first started my career, my only choice was to work exclusively for LGBTQ organizations or not to disclose my gender history. For the first ten years, I never met, let alone heard of another person like me working as a professional fundraiser. Every time I walked into a donor meeting, I worried if this was going to be the time when my identity was going to be the reason my agency lost funding.”

“As a result, while I was always open about my identity with those I worked directly, I never made public statements about being transgender. In fact, during the six years, I was on the DER board, including two as Board President, much of the membership did not know I was trans until I outed myself at my retirement party. That was a choice I felt I had to make if I was to not only maintain my employment but effectively walk across the various lines of privilege and power that is the bread and butter of any professional fundraiser.”

Gayle’s journey into fundraising came after she was fired from her job as a Communications Director when she began her gender transition.  After some reflection, she realized that the marketing that she had done in the past was not that dissimilar to fundraising.

“I hit on the idea that if I could learn to raise money, people wouldn’t care what color my hair was, let alone my gender history,” she says, “So at the invitation of a friend, I attended my first DER monthly luncheon in January of 2003. I also began to take every free class offered by the Foundation Center, did volunteer fundraising for small nonprofits, and joined the Board of a local LGBTQ mental health center. After two months, I secured my first part-time fundraising job as a telefunder for the San Francisco Symphony. After six months of concerted effort, I obtained full-time fundraising work as the Grants Manager at LYRIC, an LGBTQ youth center in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood.

Gayle rarely missed a monthly DER luncheon for her first decade working as a professional fundraiser. The skills she learned through DER helped advance her career, and the network she built ensured stable employment. She sat on the DER Board for 6 years, facilitating quarterly FAB meetings and served for two years as Board President.  She met her first professional mentor through DER, as well as those who would eventually become my mentees, many of who are now Development or Executive Directors. She asserts, “I am so grateful for everything that DER has provided me over the years and think it is one of the Bay Area’s most unsung organizations.  As Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’”

When Gayle’s not raising money, mentoring and doing fundraising training, she enjoys spending time with her partner, helping lead her women’s group, working on her home, and traveling outside the Bay Area.

Your opinion matters

Thanks for taking time to complete the DER member community survey!  You can learn how others responded here. If you have questions or comments, please let us know by sending a note to the DER board of directors or posting on your LinkedIn or FaceBook pages and adding #DER.

For DER Members Only

The Northern California Planned Giving Council is holding their 26th Annual Conference on Planned Giving on May 4, 2018 in San Francisco.  DER members can receive the NCPGC member rate, a $50 savings.  This conference offers 20 workshops in 5 tracks – there will be something for everyone.  For details and to register, go to  (Just select the member rate when you sign up.)


The Fundraising School Launches Free Podcasts

The Fund Raising School has launched the First Day Podcast! Highlighting current news and research, this weekly 10 minute podcast provides fundraisers with the latest information in fundraising and philanthropy.  Visit their professional development site for more information.

Next up…
Philanthropy Outlook Study with Dr. Una Osili
February 26

Board Engagement with Fundraising with Dr. Gene Tempel
March 5

Women’s Philanthropy Institute Top Hits with Dr. Debra Mesch
March 12

Religion & Charitable Giving with Dr. David King
March 19

Impact Investing with Melanie Audette
March 26

They Created a DAF, Did They Put Up a Parking Lot? with Dr. Patrick Rooney
April 2

September Programs You Won’t Want to Miss!

Good data is essential to fundraising.  Join us Friday, September 8 as Rob Weiner leads us through an overview of donor and member databases in The Care and Feeding of Your Donor Database at Noon, Friday, September 8, Lighthouse for the Blind, 155 Market St., 10th Floor; San Francisco, CA 94103. $15 for members and $25 for nonmembers.  Reserve your seat here.



Upcoming programs

Friday, August 11 Luncheon Program – New Research into What’s Holding Back Planning Giving

Thursday, September 7 Fundraisers’ Anxiety Buster (FAB) – How as the Philanthropy Field Evolved?

Visit the Events Page to learn more about these programs and reserve your seat today.

Inspire your board to raise funds!

Did you miss out on the the combined MGM/Luncheon program on July 12?  It’s all about engaging your board joyfully in fundraising.  Visit the events page now!

Want to improve your presentation skills?

Amplifying Your Fundraising by Making a Compelling Presentation 

Thursday, June 15, 2017 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (PDT)

Sanford Institute of Philanthropy @ John F. Kennedy University
100 Ellinwood Way
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Participants will learn the skills needed to sharpen their approach and develop strategies for making a compelling presentation to new and existing donors with the goal of growing their donor pipeline and increasing donor retention. Presenters will share areas of opportunity for nonprofit leaders in both small and medium-sized organizations. The information will support new donor acquisition and cultivation in support of the organizations’ cause. At the end of the seminar, participants will share actionable next steps.

Register through the Sanford Institute’s Eventbrite page

Learn about the latest national giving trends


Tuesday, June 23 from 10:00 – 11:30am     World Affairs Council Building (312 Sutter Street, Suite 200 in San Francisco)

Join CCS and the Foundation Center for a panel discussion to coincide with this year’s Giving USA results release. Hear CCS’s impressions and discuss the implications of the results with a panel of non-profit leaders from prominent organizations around the Bay Area.

To register or if you have questions please contact to Diana Huynh at or (949) 954-5252.

Ticket sales for the 2nd Hank Ross Forum

Registration opens April 21st for the next Hank Rosso Forum, which takes place October 4, 2017.  This year’s theme is Accelerating Social Change: Move Fast and Fix Things. Register here.

Volunteer Opportunities with DER

You come to DER events and programs because they are informative, affordable and offer opportunity for professional networking.  You can enhance your member experience and support our efforts by volunteering.  If one of the following looks appealing, please send an email to for a prompt and enthusiastic response.

  • Monthly luncheon volunteers to assist with set-up and registration
  • Fundraisers Anxiety Busters (FAB) needs two co-facilitators for organization this quarterly peer support group.  You can contact  Meg Cruz directly.
  • The marketing committee seeks assistance with a variety of activities to support member communications and recruitment, including social media, the DER Newsletter, job postings and special features and updates to the DER website.

April Luncheon Date Change

Join us Friday, April 21 from Noon to 1:30 pm at our new East Bay venue, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, for Volunteer Boards: When Being the Best Requires More Than Passion with consultant Charlie Roddy of Charles E. Roddy Consulting.  Visit the Events page for more detail and to reserve your seat through registration.