We are pleased to welcome Jewanna Apawu, our newest adjunct staff member, to the firm. We asked her a few questions to share with our readers looking to learn more about Jewanna's remarkable expertise, and for those who may be seeking a seasoned development professional to partner with.
You have a donor communications background within major healthcare and higher education organizations. Tell us how you got started in donor relations work.
I have always had a talent for persuasive writing. I was working for the healthcare team within a large public relations agency, mainly writing press releases and fact sheets. It was fast-paced and exciting, but there was no contact with the client and no real mission beyond billing hours. When the chance to work at the University of Chicago came along, I leaped at the opportunity. That was 15 years ago!
You have extensive experience crafting persuasive donor communication. How do you approach writing messaging that connects with people?
Donor communication is all about being human. Every organization has a story it wants to spread, and it is sometimes hard to deliver that message while remaining donor-centric. When I write to donors, I do so as if I’m writing to an old, trusted friend. Secondary to forming that connection is being transparent about why you are reaching out and, of course, always expressing gratitude.
What drew you to consulting work?
For the past several years, I have taken on freelance development writing projects for organizations throughout Chicago. My 9 to 5 career allowed me to gain knowledge of donor relations strategy and how to add meaning to engagement opportunities while simultaneously nurturing important relationships that lead to major gifts. Consulting with TW&B allows me to merge these two worlds and bring everything I’ve practiced over the years to the table.
What is your approach to working with clients?
I’m a big proponent of collaboration at all levels of an organization. The point of view of the CEO is important, but it is only one voice among many others in the room. Valuable insight can also come from the person answering the phone. I always start projects with an open mind and open ears.
What made you interested in joining the TW&B team?
The team is full of people from every facet of development and such a wide breadth of experience. I am grateful to share my donor relations strategies with some of the best in the industry. I also had the pleasure of working with TWB’s CEO at the University of Chicago when I was starting. I’ve come full circle to find this new home in my donor relations career.
Jewanna is the Associate Director of Donor Engagement at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation. Read her full bio or contact her about fundraising counsel at email@example.com.