One day she discovered that a client, the international nonprofit Women’s Funding Network (WFN), was offering a course that trained women of color to be fund raisers. Harris signed up—and felt totally inspired as the presenter described how raising money for nonprofits can lead to social change. Until then, she says, “I never understood that giving could be that powerful or that one could make a living by fund raising. I thought, I know how to do this, and I could make a world of difference.”
Harris went on to work full time at WFN for five years. As vice president of development, she secured -multimillion-dollar donations from the foundations of Ford, American Express, Levi’s and others while increasing donations from individuals. With an annual salary of $65,000, however, she had to adjust her personal spending. Gone were regular dinners out and expensive cuts and color (“I switched to getting my hair braided,” she says). But downsizing didn’t bother her. “Every day I felt better about what I was doing,” she says.
In 2009, Harris moved to Florida to take the helm of the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, a nonprofit that tackles such issues as sex trafficking, domestic violence, employment rights and women’s financial literacy. “Never during my high-tech career did I have a sense that I would change society,” says Harris, whose salary is now over $100,000. “I see girls become women, I see domestic violence victims being empowered. It makes me want to get up and go raise more money. When you invest in women and girls, you are investing in the improvement of communities. I feel that I was put on this earth to bring others along to this way of thinking.”
ANDREA ATKINS, a frequent contributor to national magazines, lives in Rye, New York.
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