Director of Development
Goodwill Industries NYNJ
"I NEED TO TRY AND CHANGE THIS KIND OF THING"
Fast fact: Tweet her @Sarahnannery
Sarah Nannery spearheads all fundraising activities for Goodwill’s social enterprise model. She also serves on the board of Community Mediation Services in Jamaica, Queens and on the board of the New York City Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, where she co-chairs the Young Professionals Committee. Previously, Nannery created and led a development department at a homeless services agency in Manhattan. She’s also most proud to be mom to a seven-month-old son.
NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?
SN: When you’re young you don’t know necessarily what a nonprofit is, but you want to make a difference and you want to help people. I think it hit home for me when – I grew up in a really small town and the concept of homelessness was just something completely foreign to me. I went on a trip to London for a few weeks, I was 13 years old, and just saw people just living in the streets – and it blew my mind. I think that was when I decided, whatever I do with my life, I need to try and change this kind of thing.
NYN: WHAT CHANGE WOULD MOST HELP THE INDIVIDUALS YOUR ORGANIZATION SERVES?
SN: We work with folks who are experiencing barriers – to employment, to getting a decent life, whatever it is. So often, the barriers are other people’s perceptions of them – what they think they can do, what they think they might do. We started off working with disabilities and that’s a very visible thing. But even intangible things – like people who are veterans coming back from serving our country are discriminated against because people might think, “Oh, they might have a PTSD episode.” Or someone who’s a single parent, they’re discriminated against because they might have to take their kid to the doctor. It’s just society’s perception of them that puts this block up. So I guess if we could change that – discrimination – that would be a big help.
NYN: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU RETIRE?
SN: I think that it’s not really tangible for me, it’s more, by the time I retire I want to really feel like I’ve made a difference in people’s lives. Not just peripherally – but really – if I hadn’t been there it wouldn’t have happened, making sure that I’m taking advantage of that opportunity to make a difference.
NYN:WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?
SN: Fundraising in general I think is very misunderstood. It’s not that hard, but it also takes a lot of work. I think people just don’t realize it’s not just holding a bake sale and making a few cold calls. It really takes a lot of planning, it takes a lot of strategic thinking to get what you really need done.