Adrienne McDade

Senior Development Officer - Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Visionary. A thirst for knowledge. Optimist.

Adrienne McDade is the Associate Director for Annual Giving at the University of Cincinnati Foundation.     Her responsibilities include Leadership Annual Giving & Student Philanthropy.  She joined the UC Foundation in 2013 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s Arts Administration Graduate Program along with receiving her MBA from the Lindner College of Business.

Prior to entering the field of fundraising, Adrienne spent 3.5 years as a full-time registered stock broker and part-time dance teacher.  This interesting combination of occupations is a direct result of her receiving her bachelor’s degree in Finance with a Dance minor from Millikin University.

Adrienne started her career path in fundraising through the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Greater Cincinnati Chapter’s diversity program, New Faces of Fundraising, which she is now serving on the board as the program’s co-chair.  Her commitment to Diversity & Inclusion efforts extends beyond her role within AFP.  Adrienne also serves on the UC Foundation’s XLR8 Diversity and Inclusion Team, comprised of individuals across different departments, units, ages, and pathways into to area of Higher Education Advancement.

Adrienne believes in the efforts towards evolving inclusive philanthropy and is excited about being a part of the movement!


What inspired you to become a fundraiser?

While I always thought fondly of individuals that advocated and secured resources for organizations they believed in, I just assumed they were volunteers and this was their way of giving back. However, during grad school, I was introduced to fundraising as a profession and saw it as an opportunity to give of myself for a greater cause and a way to make a nice income. With that in mind, I decided to take a chance and to this day, it’s one of the best choices I’ve made.


How do you explain your profession to your family and friends?

Admittedly, they were a bit confused initially. Questions like, “What does that mean? Will you get paid for that? Are you sure about this?” came from everyone. I think the confusion stems from there not being many African Americans in the profession and not much is known about it.

I explained it to them using myself as an example - I was able to obtain higher education degrees because a fundraiser(s) cultivated and solicited donors to establish scholarships from which I was awarded. I in turn do the same thing as I connect those with capacity with causes that interest them.


What is the best advice that you have received related to your career?

My mom told me a long time ago, choose a job that when you wake up every day, you can’t wait to get there.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a fundraiser?

Choose an organization with a mission that you embrace and believe in because in this profession, people give to people and your commitment {to the organization} or lack thereof will always show through.


What are you most proud of in your career?

Being given the opportunity to create a Culture of Philanthropy on the University of Cincinnati campus. I’m very passionate about giving back and educating the next generation of philanthropists about the importance of giving is so rewarding to me.


Should more people of color be engaged in the profession? Why?

Absolutely! My number one reason - it’s such a great career choice with a variety of jobs to choose from, e.g., Annual Fund, Major Gifts, Donor Stewardship, Corporate and Foundation, etc… My second reason – currently, there are 30,000 registered fundraisers, yet only 10 percent are people of color (according to Association of Fundraising Professionals data). In looking at the demographic projections for the next thirty-five years, it’s predicted that black and brown people will outnumber white people. Withthat, it can safely be assumed that our country’s donor base donor will reflect these changes and so should our development offices.


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