Community Team Member, Karen Arreola sits down with DD’s leaders and talks: being a force for good, contributing to a movement, and their next steps in the industry.
Karen: Describe yourself in 6 words or less.
Darren: Frequent flyer, honest, particular, reserved, thoughtful.
Karen: Window seat or aisle seat?
Darren: It’s not that simple! I’ll choose domestic window and international aisle. That said, I would probably let you strap me down in the cargo hold at this point if it meant (safely) traveling again.
K: Of all the places you’ve visited, why reside in Chicago? D: I grew up in a small town in the Midwest so honestly, it’s probably the balance between escaping to the city and feeling like home. The lake, the people, the food – just give me three days and you’re going to want to live here too. K: What is personally inspiring you right now?
D: Fresh perspective on our renewed vision. We’re being incredibly forward-thinking right now and it’s exciting to put all of these different goals and ideas into motion. I would say the B Corp community has really influenced me in a positive way. We launched several different initiatives to kick off the new year and started learning from different kinds of industry leaders. These past few months in particular, just seeing their example has helped me stay focused on the right things. You should also check out a book by Simon Sinek called “The Infinite Game” – definitely changed my mentality on long-term vision.
K: Why a career in fundraising?
D: I can make a bigger impact on the world.
K: What kind of impact were you looking to make when you first started in fundraising? How has that changed now?
D: I would be lying if I said I had any idea at that point. We have experiences that shape us in ways we can’t possibly understand at the time. For me, losing my grandfather to cancer – the effect on my entire family – led me down a path, so to speak. I don’t know if that’s hindsight or just looking for meaning, but it definitely sparked something.
Now, it’s about empowerment. How can we better serve our partners and our teams? How can we create a stronger foundation for growth and leadership? How can we do more? Impact more? Today, tomorrow, ten years from now?
K: How have you seen DialogueDirect change over the years?
D: We used to be a lot more cause-centric in delivering the highest possible results for our charity partner. Today, we’re more focused on making the greatest impact possible – and while that definitely still applies to our charity partners, there’s a lot more diversifying of issues there. It also means becoming a B Corp, expanding our fundraising services, heavily investing into our teams, etc. We’re thinking a lot differently and more purposefully.
K: What is the driving force behind that thought process?
D: Our values. We’re committed to living by them in every conversation and every decision. We’ve actually created four new director roles to exemplify, further, and promote those values at every level of the organization. So...stay tuned!
K: How have you seen DialogueDirect impact its local communities and the world as a whole?
D: So we talk about change a lot, but to me the biggest change we make every day has nothing to do with how many donors got involved or how much money was raised. It comes from getting people to think differently about how they’re making an impact on the world. It’s genuine. It’s long-term. It’s personal. And it’s something that ripples further and further.
K: We know you’ve gotten to visit all of the campaigns as well as some of the communities our partners help worldwide. What experience or moment has proven that to you?
D: I see this happen in any interaction between a donor and a fundraiser. You can’t convince someone to care, right? You can only give someone that already cares the choice to do something about it. So you’re watching this connection develop with someone that seemed hesitant to stop and talk, might be in a rush, but most likely wasn’t looking for us. And over the course of engaging with them for 5-10 minutes, not only does this person decide to get involved in a meaningful way, they’re opening up about their life, smiling for photos together, and sincerely thanking us. I think that’s powerful and I think that’s the start of an even bigger movement.
K: Last question: if you weren’t in the fundraising industry, where would you be?
D: Food and travel – both capable of changing the world in their own right!
Stay tuned for more interviews in this series: Behind the Movement