Cherrelle J. Duncan
Founder of Duncan Impact Solutions
Cherrelle J. Duncan is a native of Lafayette, LA and has been a Houstonian since 2013. She is the founder of Duncan Impact Solutions, which specializes in non-profit consulting and uses her experience to oversee the development needs of organizations and cultivate fundraising vehicles and sponsorship for the various events. Cherrelle has worked for two national nonprofit organizations specializing in events and peer-to-peer fundraising. Currently, she is the Fundraising Manager for a local homeless shelter. Over the course of her career, she has focused on developing her skill set to contribute significantly to each organization and the industry at large.
Cherrelle received her B.A in Public Relations from the University of Louisiana in 2011 and her Master of Public Service & Administration from Texas A&M University in 2013. She has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 2014 and was highlighted as a 2017 AFP International Outstanding Young Fundraising Professional in addition to being a 2016 AFP Diverse Communities International Conference Scholar. She has been a member of the Houston Area Urban League Young Professionals since 2014 and has served as the Fund Development Chair between 2015-2017, Treasurer from 2017-2018 and the 2018-2019 Vice President. She is a 2017 National Urban League Emerging Leader Program alumnus and was honored with an inaugural 2016 National Urban League Heroes in the Movement Award. Finally, she is a proud member of the Prince Hall affiliated Order of the Eastern Star, the Junior League of Houston, and a lifelong member of the Church of God in Christ.
How did you get interested in the fundraising profession?
I have always been interested in how money funds the mission of an organization. I got my first peek at nonprofit entities while growing up in church and assisting my mom who was the controller of church and the jurisdiction. By observing and talking with her, I learned where tithe, offerings, building funds and other weekly income went to. I really learned about restricted giving before I even knew what restricted giving was! My church involvement, coupled with my deep passion for service, was the basis of my career choice.
It was in college that I learned that there were professional schools with concentrations in nonprofit management. After attending the inaugural Clinton Global Initiative, I went on a search for like institutions and landed at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service as a Diversity Fellow. It was here that I honed my skills in human resources, the basics of fundraising, budgeting and grant writing. Shortly after graduating, I ended up at American Cancer Society where I worked in special events.
What is something you wish you knew early on in your fundraising career?
I wish I had truly understood the power of choice. Each day, donors have a choice to choose one organization over another and it is our job as fundraisers to not only steward them but to let them go if the relationship is no longer serving both the organization and the individual.
What is the one quality every fundraiser should have?
A zeal for learning.
What inspires you about the fundraising profession?
I’m inspired that the industry is growing and that there are many different avenues that one can be involved in fundraising. Not all fundraisers are created equal and neither are organizations. To my point, fundraisers can adjust their careers as their life suggests. If you’re looking to be a well rounded fundraiser, working for a small organization where you are the team. If you want to be inward facing, focus on grant writing or prospect research.
How do you want to be remembered as a professional?
I want to be remembered for my dedication to educating and growing the industry. It gives me great joy when I am able to not only welcome new fundraisers into the industry but help them grow by providing resources. I want my legacy to be one of growing organizations and individuals to their fullest potential.