Member Spotlight: Laura Bergman, Network Engagement, Candid
Laura Bergman is on the Network Programs team at Candid that provides resources, training, and data to nonprofits to enable them to work more effectively. She started as an Online Librarian and began teaching classes on the Foundation Directory Online, their online database for nonprofits seeking institutional funding. She currently works with a team that offers training on wide variety of nonprofit topics, with a focus on fundraising.
Laura has worked in development for over 20 years in many roles including development consultant, executive director, development director, programs manager, and board member. “What strikes me about fundraising is that it doesn’t fundamentally change,” she notes, “Whether you’re looking to foundations, corporations, or individual donors, there is always a personal connection you need to make in order to be successful. What has changed is the myriad ways we now have for researching and communicating with people. We can use email, LinkedIn, social media, or just the phone. You can do your homework on a funder so much faster and accurately than before, giving more time for connecting.”
She “accidentally” started in development after college when she worked for a political consulting company. “I soon realized that raising money was maybe the most crucial part of a successful campaign,” she explains. She went to work for a favorite client, Kathleen Brown, when she became State Treasurer but when Brown lost her bid for Governor, Laura went back to graduate school. “When I entered the nonprofit field, I used my previous experience in political fundraising, knowing that whether it’s a campaign or a nonprofit cause, raising money makes things possible.”
Right after graduate school, Laura moved to Prague to witness a young democracy at work and landed at an NGO. “I came up with this crazy notion based on my time as an intern in DC when I was in college,” she recalls. “I created the first ever parliamentary internship program in Eastern Europe. The goal was to get desperately needed resources to newly elected officials from the Czech Republic, who essentially had one secretary in the whole building. Interns provided research and administrative help while gaining an amazing experience. I raised money from the European Union for the pilot, and the following year the funding was renewed by the Czech Parliament. Looking back, I can’t quite believe I pulled it off!”
Laura finds that her work benefits from many different skills. “People skills are obviously important, but so is analytical thinking, interest in current events, even hobbies,” she asserts, “I come from a big family, have a lot of interests, and love to travel, so I can generally find something in common with just about anyone. I’m that person who is seated next to crazy Aunt Gretchen at a family dinner because I can talk to anyone!”
Laura first joined DER in the 1990s and recently renewed her membership. As part of Candid’s regional outreach strategy, she recently met with the DER board and as a result, is hoping to collaborate on a few trainings this year, including a Corporate Philanthropy program in November.