- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 27, 2006

Stacey Sickels Heckel may be a fundraiser, but money is the last thing she talks about when chatting with potential donors.

“I never feel like I’m raising money, because it’s not about money,” said Mrs. Heckel, the new director of development and executive director of the Anne Arundel Community College Foundation Inc. “It’s about sharing with someone what the opportunities are for supporting an institution.”

Mrs. Heckel, 40, oversees philanthropy efforts for Anne Arundel Community College, near Annapolis in Arnold, Md. Her staff targets local residents, corporations, alumni, students, faculty and staff for donations to fund educational initiatives and buy new resources.

In her new role, Mrs. Heckel hopes to exceed the two-year college’s contributions of $1.1 million in fiscal 2006, which ended June 30. She has set a fiscal 2007 goal of $1.3 million, which she said is buoyed by encouraging nationwide trends.

“There’s a lot of philanthropy to harness,” said Mrs. Heckel, citing $260.2 billion in total U.S. donations last year, a 6 percent increase over 2004. While much of the jump is attributable to disaster-relief donations, several other categories — including education, health care, the environment and international affairs — saw increases as well.

“What’s really exciting to me is every single one of those trends can be met by this community college,” she said.

Mrs. Heckel said her job is made easier by the college’s ability to meet the needs of the community, supporting in turn the donors who provide funding. For example, she said, the college looks at anticipated job vacancies for each year and discerns the skills required in those positions.

“Then they build the curriculum to meet the skills, to meet the shortages,” she explained. “The curriculum will expand and contract to meet the community’s needs.”

Mrs. Heckel then uses the reciprocal nature of a donation as a selling point to local businesses.

Prior to joining the college foundation, Mrs. Heckel was director of institutional advancement at St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md. Before that, she spent five years as director of advancement at Grace Episcopal Day School in Kensington. In the spring, she achieved the credential of Certified Fund Raising Executive, a designation issued by the Certified Fund Raising Executive International.

“Stacey brings to this job more than 20 years of excellent fundraising and development experience,” said Mark Behm, the college’s interim vice president for learning resources management. “Her work at the national level generated invaluable contacts, which we hope will evolve into increased scholarship opportunities for our students and new sources of funding for college initiatives involving technology, equipment donations and professional development.”

Mrs. Heckel acknowledged that there is sometimes a negative image of money management at nonprofits, which undermines donor confidence. However, by giving donors updates on where their money is going and by making ethics a clear priority, nonprofits can win their trust, she said.

“You really need to treat everyone with care and thoughtfulness,” she said.

High-profile organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation help illustrate the benefits of philanthropy, she said.

“The government can only do so much,” she said. “Philanthropy can really be an agent of change.”

In her spare time, Mrs. Heckel, who lives in Severna Park with her husband, David, and their two sons, is a member and coach of Ice Force One, a co-ed synchronized figure-skating team.

Kara Rowland

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