Hello, and welcome to another episode of Conversations with Doc Martin, where we talk to extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. With me today is Calen Ouellette, serving to cultivate the Los Angeles LBGT Center’s Engagement and Fundraising efforts. Prior to his time at the Center he served multiple leadership roles at the University of Southern California, including the largest global fundraising campaign for the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. Outside of his professional obligations, he volunteers at a wide variety of organizations including the Pointe Foundation and the Griffith Observatory.
We start out our conversation discussing Calen’s career trajectory, and how he became interested in fundraising. Originally interested in science and being an astronaut, Calen realized that this original goal was more of a hobby. After some self exploration, he discovered he may be good at public relations and public relations. He became an intern at NBC studios in New York, and, while there, began to understand even more about himself. When he arrived back in LA, he worked at a PR firm that was connected with, among other companies, Oral-B laboratories. This connection landed him a communication and public relation role at the University of Southern California’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry.
We move on to discuss come of the lessons Calen has learned over his career in engagement and fundraising about helping people see the opportunity regarding giving back, either with their time or with their money, to an institution. Calen discusses the importance of building trust over the business transaction itself, and the need to listen over sales to tap into an individuals passion to encourage them to be part of something bigger, regardless of their motivation. Calen stresses that it is about listening, connecting, and remembering conversations and interactions you have with others to discover what really relates best to others.
Next, I ask Calen about how he became involved in the Pointe Foundation and eventually his most recent affiliation with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. We get into people’s motivation behind wanting to give back and observations and differences between people give time vs. money. He also discusses how all too often volunteering time goes unnoticed, and how time should be quantified just as much as the financial donations that are made. Calen also stresses the importance of being able to activate people into your cause by asking people how they would like to spend the time they are donating, not by telling them how to spend the time they are donating to optimize the investment. It is important to remember that those donating are investors, volunteers, and ambassadors.
Watch the Full Interview Here
We finish by discussing the Los Angeles LGBT Center, its mission, and what it means to him to work in engagement and fundraising for such an organization. We talk about the key aspects of interacting with donors, engaging people in your cause, and feeling comfortable once you figure out who you are and what makes you tick, particularly when it comes to fundraising efforts. Finally, Calen talks about some of the biggest lessons he has learned throughout his career in public relations, communications, and fundraising.
You can also find Calen on Linkedin here!