In April 2014, Villa VP for Advancement David Huffine received the Nina Abady Award for excellence in fundraising from the Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives. In his acceptance remarks, he reflected on philanthropy, his career, and who and what he considers important along the journey:
As I was crossing the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro the fall of my sophomore year, I ran into a fraternity brother who said, “Huffine, we’re all going over to the Alumni House tonight to call up the alumni and ask for money.” I suppose I made a quick mental scan of all the other options college students have for their evenings, and to this day I remember saying, “Why would we want to do that?”
Nevertheless, I showed up at the Alumni House that night. Little did I expect that as I walked through those doors, I was walking into what was to become my life’s vocation.
That night I called the alumni and asked for money. I don’t know if I got much money, but what I did get was something way more valuable:
1. I learned that Fundraising was a real job that people could actually do.
2. I also learned that Fundraising, or Development, is nothing more, deep down, than making a connection with people over a cause you both believe in.
And after almost 30 years doing that real job, I still believe that no matter how people change or causes change or practices change or technologies change, it’s still about making a connection with people over a cause you both believe in.
Another truth it took a bit longer to realize is that no one can raise a penny alone. Fundraising is a team sport. I have been fortunate to be part of some incredible teams through the years.
Tops is my phenomenal team at St. Joseph’s Villa –staff and volunteer leaders alike. They not only work tirelessly to make every day brighter for children with all kinds of special needs and their families, they make every day brighter for me, too.
Amazing people are committed to this Great Enterprise of Philanthropy. Whether an asker or a giver, a staffer or a volunteer, they are engaged in a decent and noble pursuit that is changing lives in our community – and in our world.
There is something that has been a profound driving philosophy all along my professional journey: I’m speaking of course about…a Peanuts comic strip.
You’ll have to picture it: Charlie Brown and Linus are outdoors, sitting on a bench. First frame, Linus says to Charlie Brown, “When I get big, I want to be a great philanthropist!” Second frame, Charlie Brown replies, “You have to have a lot of money to be a great philanthropist.” Third frame, silence, Linus is thinking. Final frame, Linus exclaims, “I want to be a great philanthropist with someone else’s money!”
Today, I see myself as nothing more than a boy who’s had the chance to grow up and be a philanthropist with other people’s money. And everyone I’ve ever raised funds with, or from, or for, you are always with me and I celebrate you!
And above all, I thank God –The Great Philanthropist! Friends, whenever we act to channel the abundant flow of God’s Great Love of Humankind to causes of mercy, health, education, beauty, remembrance, reconciliation, faith, hope and love, we are all going and doing likewise.