Donna Marino of Scottsdale, Arizona, serves as Senior Vice President and Catholic Charities Division Director for Greater Mission. She has 35 years of development experience including over 20 years serving the Catholic Church.
A native of Connecticut, Donna and her family relocated to Phoenix in 2007 where she served as the President and CEO of the Catholic Community Foundation. Her most recent position before joining Greater Mission was President and CEO of Catholic Education Arizona.
Below is a Q&A with Donna to share more about her and her work with Greater Mission.
Q: Would you tell us a little about yourself and your life these days?
A: My relocation to Arizona 15 years ago to serve as the CEO of the Catholic Community Foundation for the Diocese of Phoenix was a transformative experience. As a Connecticut native and after serving both the Sisters of Mercy in West Hartford and the Diocese of Bridgeport with Bishop William Lori (now the Archbishop in Baltimore) it was a significant transition to move to the desert! I have a busy life and hiking, visiting Mexico, and hosting family gatherings are among my favorite things.
Q: What led you to a career in the mission-driven world?
A: As a college student in Boston, I was afforded the opportunity to do volunteer work at the national level for a well-known charity. My “eyes were opened” to the notion that a career in the non-profit sector could be fulfilling and that I could be successful working with organizations that focus on mission and measurable outcomes.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
A: One of my favorite expressions is “Financial Fuel to Fund the Mission.” The most rewarding thing about work is helping clients – dioceses, parishes, schools and agencies – achieve and exceed their financial goals to fund their mission priorities. Sounds easy, but it involves a LOT of teamwork, prayer, patience and a good sense of humor!
Q: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned while working with Greater Mission and with your Catholic Charities clients?
A: When I joined Greater Mission I had a lot of fundraising experience, so I am always surprised at how much I am still learning: I always learn a lot from my clients! Since I work primarily with our Catholic Charities agencies, I am also surprised that very few understand what motivates donors to give, how to build effective boards and committees, how to raise more money from grants and how to elevate their overall fundraising success. We have a 4-step process that works well for our Catholic Charities agencies, which includes Coaching. I do a lot of coaching – which I really enjoy.
Q: What have you found that clients are most surprised by when they begin working with Greater Mission?
A: Our clients are often surprised on how “deep we go” in our processes to help them be successful. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in all aspects of a project timeline. I often joke with my clients that I never leave them…once a Greater Mission client you are part of the family…long after the contract is over. I have mentored some amazing people and made many good friends in this process.
Q: What would you say to someone whose organization could benefit from Greater Mission’s services?
A. First: fundraising is relational, not transactional, so our initial work with a client is a free consultation and often includes a meeting with the Board of Directors. We get to know you before we design a program for you. Second: we customize our services based on desired revenue outcomes. Third, and on a personal note: in prior positions I have held as a senior executive for different Catholic organizations, I hired consultants. I never quite understood how they were helping me. They were just doing the work instead of training me on how to really be better, how to significantly “move the revenue needle” for success over the long term. At Greater Mission, we are committed to the long-term success of our clients.
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