A small team of only four employees is responsible for managing more than 1,700 donors at the Pittsburgh Foundation, a community nonprofit organization founded in 1945. In order to ensure generous philanthropic giving, their goal is to create high-touch relationships with each donor.
Their biggest obstacle? Tedious tasks and processes that limit a fundraiser’s capacity to personally interact with donors.
Reilly Conroy, a senior account executive at Gravyty, said tedious administrative tasks are a problem for many nonprofits. By partnering with her employer Gravyty, a company that builds fundraiser enablement and donor data security solutions powered by AI for nonprofits, higher education and healthcare organizations, the Pittsburgh Foundation can now automate its menial tasks so its employees can spend more time engaging with donors.
“The more time fundraisers can spend engaging personally with donors, the more likely those donors will continue to support that organization, and the more monetary support a nonprofit has, the more social good they can do and the greater impact they can have on the community,” Conroy said.
Before Conroy was at Gravyty, she grew up with an interest in working in the nonprofit sector. She spent her childhood saving money to donate to the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children. Later, she majored in international studies and was vice president of her college’s chapter of charity: water, an international nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to clean drinking water.
But not all paths are linear. Instead of applying to roles at nonprofits, Conroy was intrigued by the benefits of working at a startup.
“I liked the idea that I could have more ownership and responsibility at a smaller company and that I wouldn’t just be a tiny cog in a much larger corporate machine,” Conroy said.
According to a Tiny Pulse report, employees are less likely to leave for a 10% pay raise elsewhere if their organization has a purpose beyond profits. Today, Conroy feels she makes a positive impact on multiple nonprofit organizations and helps them reach their fundraising goals.
Below, Conroy told Built In Boston how both a mission-driven company purpose and an innovative culture shape her professional development and make her excited to get out of bed each day.
Reilly, tell us about your work experience. What attracted you to join Gravyty?
I’ve always had a passion for social justice. As a kid, I used to collect coins in a tin coffee can and donate to organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children.
In college, I majored in international studies with a focus on ethics and social justice. I was also vice president of my college’s chapter of charity: water, an international nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone has access to clean drinking water.
By the time I was job-hunting during my senior year, I knew I was interested in the nonprofit sector. That said, I was also really interested in working for a startup. I liked the idea that I could have more ownership and responsibility at a smaller company and that I wouldn’t just be a tiny cog in a much larger corporate machine. I stumbled across the job posting for a business development representative at Gravyty and after doing some research on the company, it felt like the perfect fit. I was really attracted to the idea that Gravyty was bringing this incredible technology to the nonprofit space. Nonprofits are traditionally not thought of as major leaders in the tech space, yet they could benefit from additional resources and technological innovation.
You were promoted from business development representative to senior account executive in your first year. How did you get there?
Right from the beginning of my time at Gravyty, I always felt like I had the agency and opportunity to chart my own path at the company. There is a really strong culture of innovation and winning at Gravyty, and if someone has new ideas or new ways to win, those ideas are welcomed.
In my role as a business development representative, I tried new approaches and implemented my own ideas. When the work I was doing was successful and produced results, leadership talked to me about my trajectory and ultimately promoted me to senior account executive.
Describe your experience as a woman in the tech and sales space.
Traditional gender roles in our society suggest women ought to be quiet, not too pushy, accommodating and gentle. But those characteristics don’t describe a successful salesperson! Overcoming societal norms to drive successful sales has been critical to my success.
I’m fortunate to work at a company that values gender diversity and focuses most on solving problems and generating outcomes. It’s been exciting to be a successful woman in this industry because every barrier I overcome is further proof that women belong in tech and in sales.
Gravyty’s mission is to use philanthropy to change our world for the better by bringing game-changing technology to the nonprofit sector.”
What advice would you give other women looking to succeed in your industry?
Just because you don’t see that many people who look like you doesn’t mean you don’t belong. Just because other people talk louder than you doesn’t mean your ideas don’t also deserve to be heard. Find a mentor who can relate to the challenges you’re facing and provide advice, even if that mentor does not look like you. And don’t give up, because as women, we are changing this industry for the better.
In your own words, what is Gravyty’s ultimate mission? How is it implemented in your day-to-day role?
Gravyty’s mission is to use philanthropy to change our world for the better by bringing game-changing technology to the nonprofit sector. If we can provide fundraising teams with the technology to transform and further the work that they’re already doing, we can accelerate the pace at which we find the next cure, open educational and career paths for the masses, serve the most vulnerable populations in our communities and more.
That’s exactly what I’m selling on a daily basis. When I’m talking to a single fundraiser about their daily job functions, I’m constantly hearing that fundraisers wish they had more time to engage with donors because it’s the part of their job they like most. However, background work and tedious tasks take away from the amount of time fundraisers can spend with donors. By using Gravyty’s technology to automate some of the more repetitive and data-centric tasks fundraisers have to do, we’re able to reallocate fundraisers’ time. The more time fundraisers can spend engaging personally with donors, the more likely those donors are to continue to support that organization, and the more monetary support a nonprofit has, the more social good they can do and the greater impact they can have on the community.
How does making a positive impact with nonprofits motivate you in your sales role?
The most exciting part of my job is getting to talk to people at incredible nonprofits of all different kinds, hear why they’re passionate about their organization’s work, and share with them how Gravyty could have a positive impact on them.
There’s no better feeling than when I sell Gravyty’s tools to a nonprofit organization and then get to see their team be successful, love the tools and bring in more donations. Knowing that the tools are making a difference and creating tangible results for fundraising teams motivates me every day.
How do you envision the future of fundraising? How is Gravyty a part of that vision?
Fundraising has always been and will always be about relationships between donors, fundraisers, entire organizations and the communities they serve. However, in an increasingly virtual world, the nature of those relationships is evolving quickly and fundraisers no longer have in-person access to their donors. They are relying on technology to keep them connected.
AI will undoubtedly be incorporated into fundraising strategies at nonprofits over the next few years. Tools like Gravyty will further the human impact that will change the fundraising space for the better.
Do you have a favorite nonprofit organization or type of nonprofit?
As a result of the pandemic, food banks are seeing massive influxes in donations and are having some of the most successful fundraising years they’ve ever had, and they’re looking for ways to sustain that. It’s been incredible to engage with food banks over the last six months and discuss how Gravyty’s tools could help their team engage with these new donors and sustain these unprecedented levels of giving for years to come.
How will the sales team be growing in 2021? What traits or skills do you look for in potential Gravyty teammates?
The Gravyty team is already growing and shows no signs of stopping. For me, the ideal teammate is driven and innovative. I appreciate someone to bounce ideas and brainstorm with. As a sales team, we’re all individually driven by our quotas. To get there, we’re constantly collaborating and sharing ideas. We want to see everyone, and therefore the company, succeed.