Women in Philanthropy Profile: Janet Cobb
A native of California, Janet Cobb currently serves as one of Network for Good’s Personal Fundraising Coaches. She has lived and worked in Oregon, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, before finally calling Chicago home. Cobb has thoroughly enjoyed her professional experiences in the culinary arts, in the high school classroom, and in fundraising and development; not to mention the gift of being a wife and a mother to three children who have become phenomenal young adults.
What’s involved with your coaching process?
In my role, I work with small nonprofits across the country to help them strategize around their fundraising efforts, particularly through the effective use of online fundraising, donor management, and communication tools. Together, we coordinate an integrated communication and fundraising plan that is data-driven and right-sized to fit each individual organization’s capacity to implement. I offer strategic and practical advice along with encouraging and supportive accountability.
How long have you been a fundraising consultant?
I’ve engaged in various aspects of fundraising throughout my career in the nonprofit arena and transitioned into coaching and consulting in 2013.
How did you get started in nonprofit work?
I’ve been a “do-gooder” my entire life and have worked within the nonprofit industry—in programming, administration, and fundraising—in some capacity my entire career. Working primarily in smaller nonprofits and schools, the program staff was often responsible for fundraising efforts. I remember in the 1980’s, conducting a ‘monthly giving’ program via snail mail when our donors mailed in $1 bills each month, sorting bulk mailings by zip code on tables in the retreat house dining hall, and sponging stamps long before self-stick existed. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I was heavily involved with strategic planning and grant-writing focused on transforming outdated classrooms and libraries into 21st century learning environments. By 2004, I moved more directly into fundraising and development work. Since then, I’ve been responsible for donor communications, database management, special events, major gifts, strategic planning, and capital campaigns—sometimes all at once.
What keeps you in the nonprofit sector?
I believe in the power of empowering others. The nonprofit sector declares that “we” are all in this together instead of “every ‘man’ for himself.” I believe in the interdependence of the community that fosters the independence of individuals within that community.
What do you enjoy most about coaching fundraisers?
Through coaching, I get to work with so many fabulous nonprofits that do great work in their own corner of the universe—doing good to make the world a better place. Fundraising is about engaging in conversation with others who care about what you care about, so that the donor has the opportunity to make an impact in a way that is meaningful to them. I enjoy sharing the skills I’ve acquired with others to make a positive impact.
What’s your proudest accomplishment with the organization?
My proudest accomplishment as a coach is that I’ve been able to support the fundraising efforts of more than 150 small and early-stage nonprofits who have a passion for their mission but can benefit from encouraging and supportive accountability around fundraising. I get to help bring their vision to reality!
Women in Philanthropy is an ongoing blog series in celebration of Women’s History Month, featuring some of the incredible women Network for Good has the pleasure to work with.