State Policy Network welcomed Natalie Bezek as Director of Fundraising Strategies in the fall of 2022. In this role, Natalie leads SPN’s efforts to build, strengthen, and accelerate fundraising capabilities across the Network. To help you get to know her, we asked Natalie to share what prompted her to join SPN and work with the Network to increase freedom and opportunity for all Americans.
I didn’t grow up in a partisan household or around strong political opinions. It wasn’t until I was in college and took a class on genocide that I began to form a point of view. While the professor was teaching government as the hero coming in to save the day, I left with the realization that it’s often courageous individuals who change the world by standing up for what’s right. I didn’t yet have the vocabulary for my budding worldview, but I began to believe change happens one person at a time.
From that point on, I began to interact with individuals who introduced me to the ideas of classical liberalism and helped challenge my preconceived ideas about the world and government. I interned at the South Carolina Policy Council which opened my eyes to the larger freedom movement and individuals working together to advance solutions to societal problems.
Starting with my early days as an intern, I have been the beneficiary of SPN programs and trainings throughout my career. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the most talented fundraisers in the Network.
In addition to the South Carolina Policy Council, I’ve worked with the Illinois Policy Institute and several national partner organizations. I’m proud to have helped launch, relaunch, and accelerate development capabilities for freedom-oriented nonprofits across the country. I have also fundraised for political campaigns, worked with a charitable foundation, and most recently, led fundraising efforts for a national nonprofit focused on empowering communities to support families in crisis.
SPN has always been the common thread throughout my career, helping me learn from the best minds in philanthropy, make lifelong connections, and remind me that my individual work is strengthened by a national network of people working toward similar goals. I get excited thinking about what’s possible when groups of people come together to advance local solutions to pressing community problems.
My focus is to develop valuable fundraising programs that help CEOs and development staff across the Network accelerate their philanthropy and impact. We have incredibly talented and sophisticated fundraisers across the country, and so my aim is to reenergize them so they can continue advancing their missions. I’ll also be working with startup organizations and new-to-fundraising development professionals to equip them with the resources they need to be successful.
I think everyone should consider a career in development! There are many aspects of fundraising that require varying skills for both extroverts and introverts. Understanding and competence in fundraising will always be needed and is essential experience for anyone who aspires to nonprofit leadership.
If you already know you want to try it out—reach out to me (or a CEO or leader you admire) and ask for time to pick their brains. We all want and need more great fundraisers, so you’ll likely be able to quickly find an opportunity to get started. It’s also a career path ripe for individuals coming from external industries.