A lifelong development and fundraising pro, Bathsheba is ensuring nonprofits get the funding and support they deserve
A third-generation Washingtonian, Bathsheba Philpott has long worked to support her community. In 1992,, she joined the Alliance for Healthy Homes, an organization focused on environmental health — specifically lead poisoning in low-income housing.
“I started in an administrative role, but lucky for me the organization was small and nimble, so it was easy to try new things,” Bathsheba says. “I got to explore everything and, soon enough, found fundraising and development.”
Development, she says, immediately resonated with her and led to her next role as a development associate for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and, after, as grants manager and senior associate director, corporate and foundation relations for Children’s National Hospital. From there, she held leadership roles at the Smithsonian and George Washington University.
Accelerating her message — and her work
In 2017, Bathsheba was named vice president of advancement for the American Council on Education (ACE), overseeing a team of development professionals. Then after more than three years with ACE, she decided to launch her own consultancy — in June 2020, Fundraising Guru Consulting LLC opened its doors.
“Our focus is on corporate and foundation relations for nonprofit organizations,” Bathsheba says. “But we also work more broadly on comprehensive fundraising plans, including individual major gifts, annual funds and crowdfunding.”
Currently, she says, the Fundraising Guru team is working with a number of clients including former employer ACE, American Society of Hematology and the Maji ya Chai Land Sanctuary project. She’s also working with the Meyer Foundation, a DC-based private foundation that supports hundreds of housing, education, job training and financial security initiatives in the community.
Bathsheba is no stranger to DC’s entrepreneurship landscape. She was the founding co-chair of the African American Affinity Group for the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ DC chapter. She was also part of the Minority Advancement Professionals Group and continues to volunteer in the community.
Overcoming the obstacles of 2020
Last year, Bathsheba says, was particularly challenging for many of her nonprofit clients and the organizations she supports personally.
“When you couple COVID-19 with the increased attention on racial, social, and economic equity, it’s this perfect storm,” she says. “COVID-19 has exacerbated underlying inequalities for communities of color and low-income communities — the people getting hit the hardest from the pandemic.” Even so, Bathsheba is encouraged by what she’s seeing. “At the same time, there’s been increased attention that I’ve seen going to Black-led organizations. It’s been great to witness that happening and I hope it sustains.”
Honing your craft and charting your course
She also says it’s times like these that remind her of the importance of balance. It’s something she especially encourages among new fundraising and development professionals.
“Have an interest outside of work,” Bathsheba says. “It could be Pilates, a book club, a meditation group, it doesn’t matter. We all get into this work to make an impact. But we work best and are better able to achieve those goals when there’s balance.”
Another recommendation for rising development professionals: “hone your craft,” Bathsheba says. “So many people say they ‘fell into’ development. But it’s important to gain that knowledge and learn more about the professional.” For Bathsheba, she says, that meant earning her CFRE, designating her an international Certified Fund Raising Executive.
“The benefit for me was the breadth of knowledge I’ve learned about the profession beyond what I do,” she says. “I’m a corporate and foundation relations professional. This training gave me the opportunity to learn more about the various facets of development.”