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. Stelios: Passionate, driven, competitive and full of energy. Karen: Fiction or Documentary? Stellios: That’s tough! I’m a total movie buff so it really depends on my mood. I must admit, though, that I’m a huge fan of stories based on or inspired by real events. Karen: Tell us a little bit about your professional life and what brought you to DD Global? Stelios: After completing my studies in the UK, I moved back to Greece to pursue a career in journalism. It wasn’t until I was unexpectedly stopped by a WWF street canvasser on my way to work one morning that I realized what my true calling was. Without hesitation, I decided to join the World Wildlife Fund’s face-to-face fundraising team and the rest is history. Over the last decade, I’ve been a part of lots of brilliant charities (like the British Heart Foundation, Save the Children, Macmillan Cancer Support, Shelter, St Mungo’s and St John Ambulance), and have worked across Brand Campaigns, Community Fundraising, Corporate Partnerships, Individual Giving, and most recently Legacy Marketing. I initially worked with DialogueDirect in 2014 through the Fellowship Program. I helped build and run campaigns for Children International and the Nature Conservancy in Chicago and Washington D.C. Despite parting ways a couple of years later, I continued to feel part of the wider Dialogue family, and never stopped appreciating all the people I was fortunate to work with during my time there. K: Let's backtrack for a second. Tell us more about DD Global. S: Oh yeah, of course! DD Global is an organization under the same parent company of DialogueDirect (Global Fundraising Group, GFG for short). DD Global is newly established and will be based in the UK. DialogueDirect U.S and DD Global will work closely to expand our reach in fundraising and make the greatest impact possible - worldwide. K: What are you looking forward to the most with DD Global and as a Director of Operations? Enabling the development of resilient leaders, supercharging our fundraising portfolio, and working with charity partners to maximize their impact. I’m eager to collaborate with teams to ensure that core values are embedded across everything we do and are embraced by every individual working at DD Global. I’m also keen to turn the challenges all of us in the sector are currently facing into opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and growth. K: Why a career in f2f fundraising? S: Having worked across several income-generating channels, I firmly believe that face-to-face fundraising is by far the most organic, engaging, and effective way to recruit and cultivate meaningful relationships with new donors. Sparking a connection with a total stranger, bonding over your shared passions and offering them the chance to make an impact when they least expect it, all whilst actively listening, gathering instant feedback and addressing their concerns, is extremely challenging but also quite magical. ✨ You can change someone’s day for the better. You can change someone’s life, win over their minds and hearts. I know that’s how my life changed. K: You mentioned working in Chicago and Washington D.C. Is there anything those cities have over London? S: Anyone who has lived in multiple locations will know that no matter where you’re based, you always end up missing elements from other places. London is a tough city to beat, but I’d say that I love a lot of Chicago’s restaurants and bars (I still have a soft spot for a good Old Fashioned) and DC’s architecture. And also, there are still people I love in both of these places, who unfortunately I can’t see as often as I’d like.
K: What's the last song you listened to? S: Lately I’ve been playing ‘Breaking Me’ by Topic and A7S on repeat. K: What's a cause you feel strongly about? S: There’s a pretty long list to be honest. But the cause that is (and will probably always be) closest to my heart is LGBT+ advocacy. There has definitely been progress for LGBT+ individuals in the last century or so, but to this day over a quarter of the world’s population believes that queer people should be charged as criminals. LGBT+ communities across the globe are still subject to domestic violence, they suffer physical, psychological and sexual abuse, they experience discrimination in education, healthcare and employment, and there are even certain countries where you could face the death penalty simply for being your authentic self or because of who you love. This must change and ignorance can no longer be an excuse. Unfortunately, the fight for equality is far from over. Personally, I volunteer with Pride in London and I actively support groups like Impulse London (which focuses on improving self-care, sexual and mental health for gay men), as well as Not a Phase (which seeks to support and champion trans individuals). K: Last Question: if you weren’t in fundraising where would you be? S: I’d probably be doing something related to the arts (the theatre in particular) or travel.
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