Member Spotlight: Patricia Eldred

Periodically, we shine a spotlight on one of our chapter members with a series of questions. We hope you enjoy learning more about the members of AFP Greater Madison.  Featured below is AFP Greater Madison's longest tenured member, Patricia Eldred, CFRE, Director of Development with Middleton Outreach Ministry.

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I got into development purely by chance. I was actually working on my dissertation and took a job at the civic center. In the course of doing that work, I did some grant writing and some other kinds of peripheral development work and found out I had a knack for it. 

Then, in the next few years I went on to become a development professional. I joined AFP, I think, a long time ago - in the mid-nineties - at the suggestion of Howard Landsman, who used to be an active AFP member. I served on committees and was on the board for several years. It’s been wonderful. It has done so much for me and for my career.

I was planning to be a cultural anthropologist. I did my field work and had done everything except for my dissertation. While I was doing my field work, my daughter got very ill and I wasn’t able to finish. I tried to change my focus, but it just wasn’t going to happen. But, development was a natural transition because you also have to be very interested in people and like to talk to them and care about them!

I think for me and for everyone the greatest challenge has been to continue to grow. The development field, when I first got into it, was not very professionalized. It was kind of new, and there certainly were no degrees in it as there are now. Joining AFP gave me that collegial interaction that is so important to learning and growing in development. I learned as much from my peers and the speakers as I did from any formal training. 

I went on to get my CFRE, which also offered lots of opportunities for growth and learning. I think it’s well worth it. 

Raising money for really good causes has been the greatest joy. I’ve raised money for the arts, the humane society, MATC, independent living, for youth, for animals. Right now at Middleton Outreach (MOM) I raise money for people with housing and food insecurity. It’s very important stuff. 

One of the first things that people get from development is “oh, I hate to ask people for money.” But, when you realize and it finally hits you that “it’s not for me - it’s for something I believe in and that the donor believes in” then it becomes a really fulfilling job.

Patricia Eldred