By Julie Funasaki Yuen
In fall 2021, Mid-Pacific welcomed Matthew Vosseller as director of annual giving. Vosseller joins the Mid-Pacific ‘ohana most recently from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i where he managed and stewarded the organization’s donors as development officer. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Vosseller earned a master’s degree in strategic communication with a non-profit management focus from Hawaii Pacific University.
What is the role of the Director of Annual Giving?
I am responsible for the management and implementation of Mid-Pacific’s Annual Giving program. This includes overseeing direct mail appeals, in-kind donations, workplace giving, online giving, and so on. Essentially, my role is to bolster the Annual Fund to fill the needs of the school that tuition does not cover.
However, I like to think I have a more human and interpersonal aspect to this role. I pride myself on being open to connecting to everyone and listening to all ideas. Ideally I like to view this role as a collaborative effort with so many different talented team members, in order to connect our donors with their passions at the school. My role is to truly understand why a donor is giving to Mid-Pacific, and carry that knowledge forward to bolster our ever-important Mid-Pacific Fund
What are you most excited about this academic year and the next?
There is so much to be excited about this academic year. From the return of live performances to athletics back on campus. What I am the most ecstatic about though is just seeing the students make their strides, and for some of them, enter the next realm of education at the college level. I think there is a part of all of us that works in schools because we love to see the development of young minds. Seeing the evolution of thinking in young people is such an interesting thing to see and I love thinking I had, albeit it very little, some contribution to that.
What have you learned about philanthropy during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The protracted effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all a great deal about one another. In short, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me that people are inherently good, and want to help those most vulnerable in their communities. Philanthropy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that not only can donors be exceedingly generous in a crisis, but they can lead through trust and courage. This trust and courage can be tangibly measured by the increased amount of giving that non-profit organizations across the nation have seen.
In the early days of the pandemic, charitable donations were up across the board. While numbers have understandably taken a dip as time has gone on, most philanthropic giving has been sustainable in relation to the early boom of donations during the pandemic. This shows the trust our donors have in our community and the desire of our fellow members to help those who need an extra hand.
Disaster philanthropy isn’t simple, but trusting those closest to the crisis to provide an accurate diagnosis and guide the response is a good start. Although philanthropy’s overall self-improvement journey is far from over, current efforts toward more effective practices show the community that philanthropy is truly striving to better local communities, and that is a very valuable lesson during difficult times.
How will you apply your previous fundraising experience to your position at Mid-Pacific?
I believe that my previous fundraising experience at Catholic Charities Hawai‘i has greatly prepared me for this role. While the mission of a social service agency like Catholic Charities Hawai‘i is a little different than Mid-Pacific, one aspect of both organizations binds the two in common ground: an absolute commitment to excellence while serving those most in need in our community.
Catholic Charities Hawai‘i primed me perfectly for how generous our community truly is. The warmth and generosity of people in Hawai‘i is something that is widely known and communicated. Spending years at my previous position has shown me this first hand. I can confidently go forward with the knowledge of how fantastic and helping the Philanthropic world is in our small Island community. I understand how important it is to serve those in need and how hard I must work to do so. I have my previous experiences to thank for that and could not be more excited to apply this knowledge to Mid-Pacific Institute.
What do you love most about Mid-Pacific?
I truly love the overall inclusion and welcoming culture of Mid-Pacific. I personally do my best work around a diverse set of ideals and personalities, and Mid-Pacific is the perfect environment to nurture this style of professional learning.
I also love the innovation of the school. Just today I was reading about how our middle school CyberOwls team took first place in a major IT competition. This is in addition to the wildly impressive things happening in our immersive technology program, the impressive performances of our School of the Arts, and the list goes on and on. When there is a place that so openly accepts different ideas, embraces diversity, and pushes the boundary of education, something truly remarkable happens and I love that about Mid-Pacific.