Not so with Alice Ferris.
Prescott residents may know Ferris because of her longtime “hands-on” commitment to fundraising, strategic planning and leadership training at the Highlands Center for Natural History.
That is a role she has had for almost 15 years.
It is also a role that Ferris takes considerable pride in, as the Highlands Center was her first client when she founded GoalBusters Consulting in 2001.
“I honestly value the Highlands Center as a client as much as any we have, for I’ve been able to stick with them, and they’ve stuck with me,” she said.
Dave Irvine, executive director for the Highlands Center, has nothing but praise for Ferris and her team.
“Alice initiated some of the initial strategic planning for this organization – well before I came here eight years ago. And she continues to serve us. She is our ‘institutional memory,’ if you will, and she had regularly helped us modify and make contemporary our strategic planning process. She has the capacity to energize our board, to help us prioritize, and to make us set achievable, realistic goals.”
Ferris’s Impact Reaches Beyond Arizona
In recent years, it is difficult for Ferris to travel anywhere in the United States without someone recognizing her and saying “Hey, didn’t I see you on PBS…?” and name one of the more than 350 public television stations in the U.S. and Canada that Ferris regularly appears on.
It is happening more and more often, too. The Wisconsin native routinely flies more than 100,000 miles each year and spends more than 200 days on the road, away from the physical offices of the Flagstaff-based business she founded in 2001: GoalBusters Consulting.
Major clients for her business include PBS, local public radio and public television stations throughout the country. She also consults with scores of non-profit service organizations – Native American groups, healthcare, education, social services, the arts, animal welfare – almost any type of non-profit imaginable has been served by Ferris and her team.
Perhaps the highest profile position she currently has is being an on-air fundraising personality for the highest rated dramatic series in public television history, Downton Abbey. Appearing in as many as 17 million households weekly, Ferris and her on-air cohost, Ken Verdoia, producer at KUED, Salt Lake City, are featured in nationally distributed PBS fundraising programming for the critically acclaimed series now in its sixth season. These fundraising programs have helped raise more than $70 million for local PBS stations.
Fundraising Career Provided Multiple Opportunities
Ferris is a frequently requested presenter on the international speaking circuit of the non-profit training and professional development world.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Wisconsin. Involved in public broadcasting for more than 25 years, she started at Wisconsin Public Television as a human “bubble machine” blowing bubbles from behind a set piece during the long-running “Lawrence Welk Show.”
Ferris has been featured as on-air national fundraising talent for many programs, such as Suze Orman’s “Financial Solutions,” and the 25th Anniversary of Ken Burns’ “Civil War.”
Most recently, she worked with the cast of “Manor of Speaking,” an Emmy-award Houston PBS produced talk show that often follows “Downton Abbey.”
Ferris sometimes has to remind viewers that while she is seen on TV frequently, it is often the magic of digital recording, not live performance. In fact, her TV work represents no more than 10 percent of her professional work. She and her business partner, Jim Anderson, CFRE, have home offices in Flagstaff but usually are on the road serving clients in Arizona and throughout North America. GoalBusters is a team of seven staff members and contractors. For more than 15 years, they have provided fundraising training, professional development and executive coaching for myriad clients. Besides the Highlands Center for Natural History, other long-term clients include North Country Healthcare, The Hopi Education Endowment Fund and KAWC Public Radio.
GoalBusters’ lines of services also include strategic planning, capital campaigns, feasibility studies, social media management, donor acquisition and direct mail campaigns.
In addition to spearheading GoalBusters, Ferris is a dedicated volunteer serving as chair for the Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive board (ACFRE). She is one of only 108 fundraising professionals to earn this designation, which is the highest credential of the fundraising profession. She also is on the Certified Fund Raising Executive board (CFRE) and provides volunteer service to many other non-profit organizations. QCBN
What business words of wisdom do you live by?
“The concept of ‘one size fits all’ really means that it fits everyone poorly. Every client we serve deserves specialized individual attention.”
Where do you see yourself and your business five years from now?
“In our business, we have a chance to meet people and organizations that have a deep passion for changing the world, so I assume we’ll still be traveling the world working with interesting people!”
Where’s your favorite place to travel?
“Places where I can have unique experiences with people who like to share what they love about their culture.”
What do you do to unwind?
“I cook, or I eat at restaurants that give me an opportunity to try foods that someone has put a lot of love and care into it. And I take pictures of the food to share on social media.”
GoalBusters can be reached at www.goalbusters.net.
By Ray Newton