150 Profiles: Brian Holaday

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Brian Holaday

Current role in the sector: Senior Director, Customer Experience & Engagement for Canadian Red Cross

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 32 years.

Brian Holaday profile picture

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
I began volunteering in the non-profit sector as an Area Representative for Red Cross Water Safety and the Life Saving Society in Saskatchewan, while attending university. My first full-time permanent job was as an Executive Director, which was an invaluable learning ground for so many facets of the sector: HR, volunteer management, finance, marketing, grant writing, reporting, publishing, procurement and working with a board of directors.

Describe your desk/workspace.
Some areas have memorabilia, some clutter and some clean space; a real mix!

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
Tom Ahern; Hilborn Charity e-news; Loyalty 360; Association of Fundraising Professionals; Data & Marketing Association. After seeing a performance of the musical Hamilton, I became fascinated by these historic events so I have been reading a great book on the War of Independence. Like our sector, there are also many schools of thought in history!

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
The sector needs to be thinking about omni-channel recruitment, retention and care of donors, customers and volunteers. Multi-channel recruitment was the ‘holy grail’ for the last few years but I don’t think anyone truly achieved it; probably because we were still thinking from inside out. Now, our donors and customers are forcing us to look at channels from their point of view, not ours! It is not unusual for a donor to make a donation online, then call a toll-free line to ask about a receipt or send a change of address in the mail or even make another donation to a direct mail piece. They don’t even consider that those might all go to different ‘desks’ within the organization. It’s our job to build our internal resources and processes to make sure they never know otherwise!

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com

Brian Holaday is Senior Director, Customer Experience & Engagement for the Canadian Red Cross.