Q&A with Thomas Manshack, North Carolina State University
1. What is your current role at your institution/company? As Associate Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations, my primary measure of success is raising philanthropic dollars. I focus especially on research fundraising, which means that I frequently collaborate with my colleagues in the Office of Sponsored Research as well as development officers in the colleges and other units. So my role is mainly to collaborate, collaborate, collaborate.
2. How long have you been a NACRO member? I first joined NACRO in 2016, when I had a lot of fundraising experience but was just breaking into CFR. I was fortunate to have a mentor who believed strongly in NACRO's holistic model as a basis for our development strategy, and then fortunate again when NC State hired a past NACRO President, Lorena McLaren. Back then, I didn't know I'd end up working for Lorena just a few years later! NACRO connections have been a big part of my career trajectory ever since my first conference in St. Louis.
3. What do you enjoy most about your NACRO membership? I could sing the praises of the high quality conferences and white papers which have been important for me professionally. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be the opportunity that NACRO gives its members to engage with each other throughout the year. It's an accessible organization with plenty of opportunities to volunteer and step into leadership roles. There's a really infectious sense of camaraderie that extends even to the newest member.
4. So far, what has been your greatest Corporate Relations success? What has been your greatest challenge? My most personally satisfying success was acquiring a VERY cool set of research equipment, nearly unique in the world, from a close corporate partner. From start to finish, the process took nearly 3 years... and looked on several occasions like it wouldn't work out. Through all the twists and turns, our team just kept sticking with it and finding a path forward. Later this year, that equipment will be ready and waiting for our faculty when they arrive at the impressive new Plant Sciences Initiative Building.
My greatest challenge is often just taking that first step to reach out to a potential new funder. I want to have all my ducks in a row -- know the company inside and out, have a great contact, and have the perfect proposal -- before I pick up the phone. However, some of my most exciting moments have come from just starting a friendly dialogue and being open to opportunity.
5. What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know? I was a New Year's baby! My birthday party is already taken care of every year, so my wife and I travel somewhere fun to celebrate it.