Meet Penny

“No Organization Is Stronger Than The Quality Of Its Leadership…”

– Edgar Powell

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Penny Cowden, MPA, CFRE, FAHP

It was a dark and rainy day (No kidding! I live in the Pacific Northwest and we get a lot of dark and rainy days!). I had left my communications job at a Fortune 500 company for a brand new start as a regional development director for a hospital. I was confident I knew what the job entailed and that I was going to be a huge success. Ok. That lasted about a week. It took about 3 months before I FINALLY figured out that I had no idea what I was doing. This wasn’t marketing or communications—at least not what I was used to. This was a whole different level. I panicked. I was sure someone would figure out I was lost. Well, of course they did. But I soon discovered that this not-for-profit world is full of really nice, generous people. So, I started reading anything I could find on the subject of donors, fundraising, leading a foundation—whatever it was, I read it. I joined AFP and AHP. I listened. I found articles and books. I read. And, then, I called the authors and asked for help. I told them I didn’t know what I was doing. They understood. They gave me counsel, advice and tips. I talked with people at conferences—vendors, consultants, fellow fundraisers. They were smart and generous. I promised I would be just as generous in my career. That’s why I started Philanthropy212°. Sure, I need to pay the electric bill like everyone else but a big motivation for me is being able to reach out through my podcast and other social media to give back what was given to me!

So, now you know ME…here’s the official third person bio:

Penny has specialized in not-for-profit philanthropy for twenty-five years, holding executive level positions at major health systems and institutions in Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Arizona.

She began her career at Weyerhaeuser Company, a Fortune 500 forest products company operating in 18 countries, in marketing, communications, and business development. She developed communication and marketing strategies and hosted representatives from the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, and Mexico.

She has provided fundraising consultation and creative services to not-for-profit organizations in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. Her fundraising consulting specialty areas include strategic planning, comprehensive resource development, capital campaigns, donor recognition systems, planned giving, moves management, coaching, operational procedures/policies, and philanthropic marketing and communications.

Penny earned her bachelor’s from Portland State University and master’s degree from Washington State University. She holds the CFRE designation and has earned advanced certification as a Fellow in the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (FAHP).

She has received numerous awards for community service and is a member of the National Chamber of Commerce, the Public Relations Society of America, The National Association of Not-for-Profit Executives and Organizations (board member), the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (board member), and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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