Meet Our Partners: Barbara Tesner

One of our favorite things about our work—besides the amazing organizations we get to help—is the incredible people we meet along the way. We are so lucky to know and partner with such talented individuals, and we want to introduce one of them to you today: Barbara Tesner.

Barbara has years of experience working with large organizations, and she recently helped us implement fundraising strategies for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we have.

Spark Point: How did you first get to know us?

Barbara: My first collaboration with Spark Point began in October 2017. I met Whitney Brimfield, the Founder and CEO of Spark Point, through the Association of Fundraising Professionals DC Chapter a few years back and had hoped we would have an opportunity to collaborate.

Spark Point: Let’s chat a bit about your work. Do you have a favorite challenge or type of client that you like to work with?

Barbara: It all comes down to creating joyful donors and grateful nonprofit organizations. While my experience encompasses all areas of fundraising, I specialize in major gifts, planned giving, board development, and donor engagement. I truly enjoy “de-mystifying” and “un-demonizing” fundraising and particularly ‘the ask,’ because it is not about ‘the ask.’ It’s everything that goes up to the ask. You have donors that want to give because you’ve shown them how to invest. I always talk about being a matchmaker, matching the donor with the organization or their passion. You have a passion, we have a place, and it’s all about making that right match. You can’t make a donor give.

Spark Point: Spark Point is a firm on a mission to promote equity. How do you promote equity in your work? What is your mission as a businessperson?

Barbara: I am passionate about helping organizations make a positive difference in the world. I want our industry to move away from being “non-profit” and instead be “for-mission”. My mission is to put the joy in philanthropy and the fun in fundraising!

Spark Point: What is your favorite thing about working with Spark Point?

Barbara: The expertise that the Spark Point team brings to its projects and the commitment to collaboration. Also, Spark Point understands that fundraising is about more than donations.

Spark Point: What advice would you give to others, particularly young women?

Barbara: “Life is a journey, not a destination,” is one of my favorite mantras. I also embrace the quote from José N. Harris “Falling down is part of life – Getting back up is living.” You have to believe in yourself and go after your passion. Network and learn from as many people as possible in your desired area of interest.

Spark Point: What’s been your compass on your journey?

Barbara: The positive impact that can be made by individuals. I also know and embrace the fact that fundraising doesn’t happen overnight. I plant a lot of seeds. I get people thinking about philanthropy and how to make a difference in the world. Helping other people with their journey is really rewarding. In my presentations, I talk about the Greek definition of the word ‘philanthropy.’ It comes from philos, and it means ‘the love of humankind.’ It goes back to being able to make a positive difference in the world. We all have the ability to do that.

Spark Point: What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Barbara: I was a competitive equestrian growing up, having owned horses for most of my life. In 2005, I became an enthusiastic bicyclist and have ridden my bicycle up some of the most iconic mountain climbs of the Tour de France – the Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier and Lautaret, Mont Ventoux, and Col de L’Izoard.