Mike Jackson is a Colorado native—he grew up in Littleton and attended CSU, earning a BS in Health Science there and an MA in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. He was on track for health club management when he took a wellness job with a tech company and worked closely with the YMCA, one of their clients. This led to his first nonprofit foray, as Executive Director of the Duncan Family YMCA. His health and wellness background served him well in this role, but without direct fundraising experience, he relied on a mentor from another YMCA who had retired to the area to help him navigate his first six months. Fortunately, the Y has a very well-honed development program (they literally “wrote the book” on the annual campaign) and Mike was a quick learner.
When asked what was his biggest surprise in learning fundraising while he was at the Y, he says he was astounded by the many variations in charitable giving—that working with different types of donors, whether corporate, individuals, or foundations—required a different tactic and perspective.
While at the YMCA, he was responsible for a $7 million renovation of the Arvada facility, and started an endowment campaign, which led to his interaction with the Community First Foundation and an eventual job there.
In his role at Community First as Director of Nonprofit Relations, Mike helped the foundation acquire endowment assets on behalf of nonprofit clients, and helped nonprofit organizations develop long-term stability through endowment planning. Mike says he “fell in love” with planned giving over the past 5 years and focused his efforts at Community First Foundation educating and supporting planned giving efforts at the nonprofits he served. He created a toolkit and slide decks to help them establish their programs. He has found it especially rewarding when a nonprofit “gets it” and implements planned giving strategies instead of focusing solely on the short-term gratification of immediate annual gifts.
During his time at Community First, Mike became involved with CPGR, joining in 2009 and getting involved on the membership committee shortly thereafter, and is proud that CPGR’s membership is near its all-time record high. He currently serves on the CPGR board as President Elect and will become Board President in 2017. He enjoys the role planned giving plays in helping donors accomplish what they want by leaving a legacy.
Some lesser-known facts about Mike: His first job after college was as an EMT/Ski Patrol at Winter Park and Keystone. He also helped create Colorado Gives Day, and met his wife at one of their events (though he’d likely protest he didn’t set out to do so!). They used the Colorado Gives platform to create a giving page to a charitable fund in lieu of wedding gifts; they are now able to direct annual gifts from the fund.
Mike recently left Community First Foundation after eight years. He is enjoying his transition and taking advantage of some mid-week ski breaks while he has the chance. He and wife Amy also try to partake of the Colorado Craft Beer scene. Mike describes their house as Grand Central Station with 3 kids: one each in elementary, middle, and high school. They all enjoy outdoor and church-related activities. His community participation includes board leadership for the Rocky Mountain United Methodist Church Foundation, the Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and as a member of the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Leadership Advisory Committee.
Written by Cari Karns, Senior Director of Development at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Foundation