Meet our Development Officer Marcus Frost

Marcus blog1Marcus Frost joined the Firelight Team in November as our Development Officer. I asked him a few questions to find out more about what makes him tick. Turns out, if you ever want to get him talking (which isn’t hard to do) pretty much any sports reference will work. Welcome to the team, Marcus!  Tell us a little about yourself…

Thanks! I’m really excited to be a part of Firelight and it’s been a lot of fun meeting our donors, grantees and everyone who’s a part of Firelight. What a great community. Hmmm, a little about myself?  Well, I'm the father of a two year old, a very lucky husband to a beautiful wife and suffer from an unfortunate addiction to all things sports related. I studied cultural anthropology in college and have always been interested in people, their perspectives and how others inform my own perspective.

How did you get into fundraising?

By accident. All fundraisers say this by the way. Still, it’s true. Many years ago I was an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for a nonprofit in Missoula, Montana. I was advocating for sustainable transportation with youth using an incentive model. Encouraging high school students to ditch their cars and take sustainable transportation to school is not an easy task so I had my work cut out for me.

I went around to local businesses and asked for donations to serve as the incentives and got a great response. At that time, I realized the term fundraising is really a misnomer; it’s actually direct marketing. A fundraiser spends most of their time honing their organization’s message, translating the vision for the organization into a measurable, feasible goal and informing individuals about the number of ways they can help achieve that goal.

When I had to choose an internship for graduate school, I chose to be a Development Intern at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I didn't know it at the time, but I had taken the first step to becoming a career fundraiser.

Fast forward a few years and tell us what brought you to Firelight?

A few months ago, I was working as the fundraiser for the UC Santa Cruz Farm when Firelight’s Development Director, Joop Rubens, called to ask if he could bring over one of Firelight’s grantee partners, Moses Zulu of Luapula Foundation in Zambia, to tour the farm.

We took a walk around the farm, which if you are ever in Santa Cruz is really a must! When we stopped to watch the apprentice farmers cleaning seeds, a practice Moses was very familiar with, he talked with them about ideas to enrich the soil quality in Zambia without the use of chemical fertilizer. One of the apprentices gave me the idea to give Moses the Apprentice Farmer's handbook. The handbook holds hundreds of tricks of the trade plus a whole section on starting and promoting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which Moses was very interested in. When I handed over the handbook to Moses I made the connection that this simple act could catalyze a sustained positive impact in Moses' community and then I was hooked. I only played a small part, but it meant a lot to me. When the Development Officer position at Firelight became available, I jumped at the opportunity.

What's next?

Since I've started working at Firelight, I've come to understand its role in Africa much more thoroughly than when I was on the outside looking in. We have a truly excellent staff tirelessly working to support our grantee partners in Africa. And those partners are able to accomplish incredible achievements with relatively meager resources. It’s pretty easy to see what I have to do--get out there and tell our story.

Two men walking along a farm field