Reshunda L. Mahone
Reshunda L. Mahone, CFRE serves Virginia State University as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Mahone has over seventeen years of fundraising experience and has held positions at Spelman College (Atlanta, GA), the University of Miami School of Law (Miami, FL), Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA), the University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL) and the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL).
Mahone holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Business Administration (concentration in Information Sciences) from the University of Florida, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Florida, and is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).
What motivated you to become a development professional?
My college roommate got a job working for the Phone Program at our school. She shared how much fun it was and how she enjoyed speaking with alumni and learning about their experiences. I applied, got turned down, and applied again, and finally they hired me. What motivated me to stay in the profession was honestly a lack of diversity. I never saw a Development Officer, DOD, Dean, Director of Annual Giving or any of the professional fundraisers who looked like me. I thought, since I am have fun as a student caller, why not make this a career. Seventeen years later, I am still "Smiling and Dialing."
What inspires you about the development profession?
I have worked at six different institutions. Many may say why do you job hop, I would say, I like flexing different muscles. Development/Advancement is the one of a few industries where you will learn so much about someone's vision, goals, priorities, family life, financial life, etc. and the ONLY thing you may in common with them, is the institution/organization you work for. That honestly inspires me. I have met so many incredible people, across the country and build lifelong relationships. I never get tired matching donors with the recipients of their generosity. Higher education is a life changing experience for many individuals.
What is the one quality every fundraiser should have?
Perseverance. Every no, can sometimes just mean not now. I've had to learn that with career advancement, front-line fundraising and even in leading a team.
What is the legacy you wish to leave behind?
To motivate other people who look like me to pursue and grow in this profession and the other is to dispel as many myths as I can about HBCU Fundraising.
What is the best advice that you have received related to your career?
I have received lots of great advice over the years. The one that has stuck with me has been around career advancement and resumes. Someone told me its not only about where you work, but what you accomplish. Their advice was that you should ONLY list accomplishments (for each position you've held) on your resume. While this may be controversial, it did motivate me to not only work as hard as I can, but to achieve as much as I can.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a fundraiser?
If you are new to fundraising start by giving back to your own institution (financially). Get involved in your alma mater's alumni association. Those are two great ways to show that you are interested in this field through your own investment of time and talent. Next, reach out to development professionals at your alma mater and invite them to coffee, lunch or just stop by for a brief meeting. The goal is to get real advice on what they would look for in hiring a fundraiser. Lastly, network!
If you are already in the field and want to transition into fundraising, look at job postings similar to the role you want to do. As best you can, get experience where you currently are that matches the experience required on the job posting. Also, sometimes you may need to step back (with title/salary) in order to get the experience in front line fundraising to move forward.
Do you have any advice for AADO members?
Get involved!! Our organization has lots of opportunities to get involved, grow and give back. For anyone wanting to connect and grow, I would take full advantage of everything AADO has to offer, the Power Hours and the Conferences.
Should more people of color be engaged in the profession? Why?
The tremendous rewards of helping people engage in philanthropy should be promoted intentionally to people of color. The more prospective practitioners from communities of color are able to experience the value of and opportunities available in this field the richer will be our family of professionals. It’s crucial for experienced development professionals of color to offer others pathways to networking, mentorship and continued professional development.