From Theatre to Advocacy: Raising Funds for Causes That Matter

By Stephanie Hagen, Prospect Researcher, NCLR

Stephanie Hagen at NCLR Headquarters in Washington

Being a fundraiser was something that never really crossed my mind. I always imagined myself being an editor at a publishing house or something similar, but halfway through graduate school I fell into a wonderful internship at New York Theatre Workshop. After four months with the marketing and development teams there, fundraising was something I knew I wanted to explore more. After finishing my graduate program, I worked in the development offices of theatre companies for a combined five years in New York and DC, mostly writing government, corporate, and foundation proposals and reports and stewarding donors when the occasion called for it.

The arts are an integral part of our society. Studies have proven that children who are exposed to the arts do better in school than their counterparts. Theatres have catalyzed the revitalization of entire neighborhoods. I very much enjoyed fundraising for the arts and I truly believe it is a worthy cause. After a while, though, I started questioning what I wanted to get out of my career: Why am I a fundraiser? When all is said and done, what difference will I have made?

That’s what led me to NCLR, where I research donors and help with our database. I’m really proud and excited to do what I do each day—not only because I have fantastic coworkers who are deeply committed to the cause, but because I feel I am making a tangible difference in people’s lives by connecting our front-line fundraisers with philanthropists who support our mission and have the financial capability to help NCLR continue its incredible work.

Though my path here was relatively unconventional and completely unplanned, I’m very grateful to be working at NCLR.