Member Spotlight: Paul Blaney, Manager of Individual Giving for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Paul Blaney is the Manager of Individual Giving for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, working with a five-person Development team, who is responsible for acquisition, cultivation and stewardship of a broad-based portfolio of major donors.  LightHouse provides education, training, advocacy, and community for blind individuals in California and around the world. Founded and based in San Francisco since 1902, LightHouse is one of the largest and most established comprehensive blindness organizations in North America.

Paul came to development after working in several nonprofit leadership positions centered on human and social services.  He moved to San Francisco in 2001 and began at Larkin Street Youth Services in a direct service role.  In 2005, he was invited to join Larkin Street’s small but mighty development team as a Donor Relations Coordinator.  He says, “I ‘took’ to Development with enthusiasm and worked my way towards providing support directly to Board members and individual donors.”

In his years in development, he has seen how technology and communication has narrowed the window of opportunity to pique and maintain someone’s attention and engagement.  “The ability to assess and capture the essence of what’s needed to bolster your organization’s case for support and removing all barriers to access are essential,” he explains, “No longer do we have a guarantee that donors will read the entirety of every message received. We are now responsible for delivering bullet point messages that resonate with donors in the flash of a few moments. We have less time to make a lasting impression.”

Paul has a very interesting “side hustle” working as a professional voiceover actor for radio, TV and film.  Two years ago, he was an audio describer for a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, directed by Paul Dano.  “Audio description is narration added to the soundtrack to describe important visual details that cannot be understood from the soundtrack alone,” he explains. “Audio description informs individuals who are blind or have low vision about visual content essential for comprehension of the film.  In my work with LightHouse, I support many blind and low vision donors. This experience helped galvanize my view that everyone should have the right to information that is fully accessible.”

Outside of work, Paul writes poems, incessantly grooms his 13-year-old black pug, Seymour, shoots A LOT of photographs, travels (recent notable trips include Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Brazil), and goes to the cinema (averaging one film per week on the big screen).

Paul has been a member of DER for about three years.  “DER has opened my world to a community of development professionals from across the Bay Area that I would otherwise not meet, “he said, “The workshops and webinars broaden my knowledge base and affords me the opportunity to learn from extraordinary fundraisers.”

Paul was recently invited to join the Board of AFP Golden Gate Chapter – one of the largest chapters in the nation. He also sits on the National Philanthropy Day Tributes committee.


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