10 Questions or Less for Joseph Piearson


10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week,  Joseph Piearson, Program Associate at the Iowa Council of Foundations. If you would like to suggest someone for a profile through 10 Questions or Less, contact Dan Brady.

You recently led the Intro to Salesforce webinar, along with Rosemary Morby of Donors Forum of Wisconsin. Can you tell us a little about the webinar and how it came together?

The webinar was really a bit of an introduction for RA’s who have an interest in exploring SalesForce. We have been using SalesForce at the Iowa Council of Foundations (or ICoF as we say) for about a year and half and love it! The Donors Forum of Wisconsin is currently in the process of exploring the platform and customizing it for their own use, so I’ve been working a lot with Rose to share what we have done and to learn more about their approach. The webinar was a great way to share how ICoF and DFW are using and plan to use SalesForce to enhance our work. The Forum has been great with organizing the webinar and putting together a SalesForce working group. Working with DWF has been extremely beneficial for both of us, and I look forward to having this channel available through the Forum to learn from other RAs as they begin to use SaleForce.

But that wasn’t you’re first webinar for the Forum network, you also worked on a social media webinar with me about a year ago.

Yes, about a year ago our members were asking a lot of questions about social media and how it could affect their work. We decided to put together a webinar to go over the basics of what social media looked like at the time and to share local examples. You, Dan, were kind enough to lend your expertise to the webinar and share a perspective of what was going on nationally and offer additional insights on the social media platforms we discussed. The entire event was tremendously successful and very well received. We greatly appreciate opportunities like this to partner with the Forum!

We’re both Millennials. What, if anything, do you think our generation does differently work-wise?

I think there is an inherent difference in the way millennials approach projects, as we seem to always be working on different aspects of a vision simultaneously. We are hard-wired to multi-task, and I think we have a constant focus on connecting everything back to the big picture and asking ourselves how we are making a difference. This is obviously not a trait exclusive to Millennials, but it always seems to be at the forefront of our minds.

Walk us through a typical day in the ICoF office.

A typical day? No such thing! One of the most exciting things about being a part of the ICoF is that you never know what will come up. With a staff of two, there seem to be new opportunities every day to support and connect with our members. As every RA knows, every day is a balance between answering member questions, concerns and requests, working proactively to anticipate the future needs of our members, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and changes in philanthropy, and moving the larger goals of the organization forward. With so much hard work we have to work closely together to get things done- and we always find a way to have fun while doing it. Afterall, this is really great work!

What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities?

As part of a small and mighty staff, I am fortunate in being able to do a little bit of everything. Half of my time is focused on the broader needs of the ICoF, everything from organizing membership programming to answering the phones, while the other half of my time goes into coordinating our Youth Philanthropy Initiative.

Is there anything you’re working on now that is particularly exciting?

As I mentioned above, a large focus of my work at the ICoF focuses on developing our Youth Philanthropy Initiative. Iowa has one of the most rapidly growing youth philanthropy movements in the country, with 24 established programs and more evolving each year. Iowa is currently 3rd in the nation in terms of the sheer number of active youth philanthropy initiatives in the state. Part of our role is to help grantmakers interested in exploring a new youth grantmaking endeavor to develop their ideas and find partnerships that make sense in their communities. In addition to helping these ideas to grow, the ICoF also works to network and support existing youth philanthropy programming. Many of these programs are forged from unique partnerships, but they all have similar objectives in promoting philanthropy at a young age and fostering youth empowerment and leadership. Right now we are working with organizations that are partnering in unique ways that we’ve never seen before. Though we are still in the early stages, we are hoping to be able to develop these pilots into national models that could expand the way we think about engaging young people in philanthropy.

What’s one thing you do in your position that the Forum network can help with?

As a small RA, we are always on the lookout for educational programming opportunities for our members. We have been blown away by the generosity of our colleagues in sharing national webinar opportunities, and we are always looking for additional events to supplement our educational offerings to members. Keep them coming!

Outside of work, what are you passionate about?

I have always had a passion for the arts, particularly theatre. I play an active role in supporting local theatre, supporting local artists, boards supporting arts education and even participate as a panelist in a local weekly variety show.

Anything else we should know?

We are thrilled to be launching a new website in the next month- look for that soon! Also, I love having fun trinkets on my desk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer statue, Transformers Soundwave mp3 player, pot holder hand-knitted by Amy Sedaris, etc) much to the chagrin of my colleague.

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