Posted March 12, 2021
As a child, Nazerit (Naz) Hagos wanted to be a singer. Since then, Naz has stayed connected to the arts community (having founded a local arts festival and arts-based collective), as well as created community-based Ethiopian organizations, and stayed involved with community groups focused on anti-Black racism, education and public health.
Although music and the arts remain important parts of her daily life, Naz’s career path ended up being shaped by her lived experience and giving back to her community.
As Associate Director, Individual Giving, Naz brings an in-depth knowledge of the fundraising landscape to her work with her colleagues in the Office of Development & Alumni Affairs at Trinity College. Since 2016, Naz has run the College’s Annual and Leadership Giving program, which includes everyday gifts from $5 all the way up to $25,000 donations. For Naz, raising funds mean that students will have the opportunities and financial support they need to succeed.
We sat down (virtually) with Naz to find out what drew her into the fundraising field, her experience as a member of the Trinity College Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and Inclusion, and what her life is like amid the pandemic.
Trinity College (TC): How did you get into the fundraising field?
Naz Hagos (NH): Growing up, my mom was adamant about education – she was determined that her children continue their studies. But for many immigrant families, like mine, one area with a large learning gap is around how to access financial supports and bursaries. Access to this type of financial information simply did not reach my community. As a child of an immigrant, my mother, who graduated from university here in Toronto, also did not have access to this information. If I knew about bursaries – it would have changed my trajectory.
I believe education is the way out. By removing the barriers to access to education such as the availability and knowledge of the financial supports available to students, it can have a real impact on an individual and their family’s situation. As a fundraiser, it’s my way to help those from different socio-economic backgrounds – to make sure financial supports are available to students. Everyone should have access to the same information and opportunities, and get the supports they need to finish their schooling.
TC: What do you enjoy most about your work as a fundraiser?
NH: I really enjoy getting to know people and working with the Trinity community: from students, and hearing about their projects; with staff and faculty and supporting the work of the College; and our interesting alumni. My job involves marketing, building connections with people and finding new donors who support the goals of the College. My work also involves a lot of data analysis – to understand the best approach to fundraising, such as analyzing what people respond to, and how to recognize people’s gifts. I enjoy working with data – I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to spreadsheets!
TC: How has your fundraising work been affected by the pandemic?
NH: We’re in a middle of the Living Trinity campaign; and while we are fundraising for the new building – the Lawson Centre for Sustainability – we are also working hard to keep the other campaign priorities front and centre – ensuring student success and enhancing academic excellence. We recognize there are other pressing matters going on for many families right now. Although it may not be the right time to give for some; for others, we have found that they have more time for conversations. And for those who are able to, we are grateful for their donations to support the College and our students.
What I have found is that the Trinity community is invested in our students. Since the start of the pandemic, our students have needed – more than ever – financial support. And our alumni, faculty and staff have stepped up to support them through urgent bursaries. Unfortunately, we are going to see the effects of the pandemic for many years, so we need to make sure that financial aid will be there for students into the future.
Also, on the technical side – what has changed in my daily work is that my conversations are now taking place via Zoom!
[TC: if you would like to give to the College’s urgent bursaries or other programs, click here]
TC: Why did you join the Trinity College Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and Inclusion?
NH: As a Black woman, I have seen and I have experienced racism in high school and university. I don’t think that everyone understands the ramifications and the full impacts of racism and systemic racism on an individual’s future. I wanted to take part – as a member of Trinity’s Task Force – to change that experience for students.
I try to think about equity and inclusivity in the way I live my everyday life. It’s important that we take a stand and not ignore what’s going on. It’s important for our community, particularly Black, Indigenous and other students of colour as well as LGBTQ+ students, to know that we are listening to them, that their experiences are valid, and that we are not going to ignore what we see.
One of the most meaningful outcomes of the Task Force recommendations is that as a college, we are going to examine whether what we are doing is the best approach and to take action to make meaningful change for an equitable and inclusive community.
TC: SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC, WHAT IS/HAS BEEN…
TC: …the one thing that you look forward to every day/week?
NH: Now that it’s warming up, actually getting out for walks every day.
TC: …the one thing that you dread to do every day/week?
NH: The only thing I can think of is laundry. I strangely hate doing laundry.
TC: …your most surprising moment?
NH: I enjoy working from home much more than I expected.
TC: …the thing you miss, or miss doing, the most?
NH: Getting poutine from the poutine truck on St. George. And, of course, actually seeing friends and family in person.
TC: …the best way for you to stay/feel connected with others?
NH: There’s something nostalgic about long phone calls with friends.
TC: …your most memorable technology fail or success?
NH: My internet decided to stop working during a meeting with volunteers. Kathy, who had just started on our team in the Development & Alumni Affairs Office, had to run the entire meeting and speak about my program. She did a great job, though, so it worked out.
TC: …the one thing you enjoy the most about working remotely?
NH: Not getting stuck on the TTC.
TC: …the one thing you enjoy the least about working remotely?
NH: I miss seeing everyone.
TC: …your (new) favourite food or item to eat/cook/bake?
NH: It’s not new, but man am I eating a lot of popcorn!
TC: …your favourite way to spend time at home?
NH: Sitting on my balcony watching crime documentaries on Netflix.
TC: …the last show/series you binge-watched?
NH: The Good Fight (I don’t know what took me so long!).
TC: …the show/series/movie/book you recommend to others?
NH: Show: New Girl. Book: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
TC: …the thing that brings you the most joy/happiness?
TC: …the first thing you will do when physical-distancing restriction are lifted and/or when the pandemic is over?
NH: Get together with friends and family and take turns hugging everyone.
TC: …the best lesson or thing you learned that you will continue post-pandemic?
NH: I’ve spent so much more time catching up with old friends over the past year. I hope that continues post-pandemic.