Member Profile: Shanna Hocking
Development is always changing—and that’s what makes it exciting, says Shanna Hocking.
“What’s amazing about this profession is that it’s not stagnant and you can always learn,” says Hocking, associate vice president of individual giving at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Her drive to learn and grow brought her to CHOP in 2017, after spending 18 years in higher education. She says challenging and leading her growing team of 26 is highly rewarding.
“My ‘why’ is my team. I go to work every day to help my team members be the best versions of themselves,” she says. “It was part of what motivated me to take this job: the opportunity to work across verticals to elevate the program and help people see the benefit of collaboration and enterprise-level thinking.”
Here, Hocking—faculty member for CASE’s Management Institute—shares her best career advice.
How did you find your way to advancement and your role right now?
I found fundraising as a career when I was a freshman in college, which is not super stereotypical. I ended up working as a development intern for four years in college in the regional office for my alma mater. In the summers between sophomore and junior and then junior and senior years, I was a development intern at Duke University because I wanted to learn from the best.
I cold-called the then-associate vice president to ask him to hire me as a development intern. He became my mentor. It was naïve and crazy, [but] you have to advocate for yourself. You really have to raise your hand to grow your own career.
What is one big challenge that advancement professionals face today?
Advancement as a whole is changing because the demographics of people are changing and the expectations of donors are changing. We have to be responsive to that in order to meet people where they are and help them be partners in our important work.
What's so amazing about this profession is that it's not stagnant and you can always learn. I always I want to keep learning.
What's one career lesson you'd pass along to someone who's just starting out in advancement?
Advocate for yourself and raise your own hand.
We are at the point in our profession where people who have been doing it for 20 or 30 years are still in the profession, and they approach their work differently. They might have fallen into development. I think we're going to start to see more people who have grown up in development. I'm in that weird space in the middle.
For people to be able to advance in their careers, we can't wait. You have to raise your hand, you have to figure out how to stretch yourself, and you have to figure out how to lead from where you are. That’s the advice I give to everybody regardless of where they are in their organization: lead from where you are.
What’s your advice for how to lead from where you are?
It's also about supporting your colleagues. This is one of those things that seems really obvious, but you shouldn't have to wait until you're in a position of authority to help care for and mentor others. People underestimate how much power that they have. You may not have the power to change your organization from a macro level, but every one of us has the power to affect others in a positive way.
What role has CASE played in your career development?
This has been such an amazing organization for me throughout my career.
When I graduated from college and wanted to go into development, even with my fundraising experience, I was rejected from every job I applied for because I didn’t have major gift experience. What people said to me was, "You need to get involved in organizations to help build your skills." That was how I heard about CASE. I went to the Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising forever ago and met people like Karen Osborne [senior strategist at The Osborne Group and longtime CASE volunteer] who taught me how to do this job.
[Through CASE] I have this incredible network of people who I can call anytime who are willing to share what they're working on and what they’ve learned. I'm on faculty right now for the Management Institute, which is so phenomenal to be able to be involved in helping other people. I’m proud to say that I'm part of this organization.