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Pacific Salmon Foundation With Allison Colina, VP Development, Marketing, And Communications 

By April 22nd, 2024No Comments13 min read
Home » Pacific Salmon Foundation With Allison Colina, VP Development, Marketing, And Communications 

Discovery Pod | Allison Colina | Pacific Salmon Foundation

Attention all nature enthusiasts and conservation heroes! Join us for an exciting episode featuring the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) and Allison Colina, their passionate VP of Development, Marketing, and Communications. Immerse yourself in the inspiring culture that drives PSF’s mission to protect and restore the wild Pacific salmon. Allison reveals their latest and most innovative campaign yet, outlining how you can become a vital part of the solution. But that’s not all! Learn how PSF provides a platform for your ideas to flourish, empowering you to make a lasting impact on our precious environment. Together, we can create the change our planet needs, so don’t miss out on this inspiring conversation! 

Listen to the podcast here

Pacific Salmon Foundation With Allison Colina, VP Development, Marketing, And Communications 

In this episode, I’m pleased to be joined by Allison Colina, who is the Vice President of Development, Marketing, and Communications with the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Welcome, Allison. I appreciate you joining us.

I’m so happy to be here. Thanks, Christoph.

I’m looking forward to chatting with you about our Director of Development and Campaign role. Hopefully, people can learn a bit more about the foundation, the great work you’re doing, and a little about yourself for that matter, too. Why don’t we start there with a bit of an overview? For someone who may not be familiar with Pacific Salmon Foundation, can you tell me a little bit more about it?

The Pacific Salmon Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in British Columbia with a focus solely on wild Pacific salmon and their habitats. We have a team of approximately 50 staff distributed around the province that focuses on science, data, and innovation. We also have a grant-making program so we grant out to community partners around the province. All of this work is designed to support salmon recovery and resilience. The work of the organization, which has been around for many years, goes from the community level People who are called streamkeepers work in the community, right up to a broader scale of open ocean research and provincial-level recovery strategies.

That’s quite a long history of success there for the foundation. What about you? What’s your why? Why is it that you do the work you do? What is it that you find compelling about the work at the Pacific Salmon Foundation?

I was attracted to the organization because of the meaningful work that they’re doing from an environmental standpoint, in particular with the unprecedented change we’re seeing happen here at home from climate change. The work at PSF is tangible and action-oriented. Our teams work with partners to make a difference every day, whether that’s a habitat rehabilitation project or an emergency that’s happened because of a climate event. It’s a special thing to be able to do something tangible and meaningful in real time that’s related to what we’re seeing from a climate perspective.

That tangibility and impact are so important to say that you’re not just a fundraising organization but a fundraising organization that does so much on the front line with service delivery, communities, climate, scientists, conservation, indigenous groups, and so on as well. It’s compelling.

The basis of that all being driven by science and data and helping to inform what that next step has to be to help support salmon recovery and resilience and for their habitats is also motivating. You can see that come out in how our partners interact with us with trust.

You’ve been at the foundation for a few years. You’ve done so much in your time. From our conversations before and what the foundation’s achieving and what you are doing, what are you most proud of so far?

I’ve been with PSF for a few years. The thing that stood out to me was when I joined, my mandate was clear. You need to grow our donor base. That’s been a big area of focus for myself and the team. That is an area of pride. We’ve been able to grow our donor base about fivefold since I joined with a lot of work around marketing and acquisition of new donors right up to some of our major donor programs. That’s been fun work and fulfilling work to do.

Another piece that stands out is when I joined, we very soon started on a journey to do a rebrand. The brand work that we’ve done has been able to pull together our teams in a cohesive way. It’s allowed us to lift this organization that was well–known in what we’ll call the salmon community but not very well-known publicly. We’ve been able to make a lot of headway there with more recognition. We see that with organizations approaching us, whether it’s a cause marketing initiative or a donation out of the blue.

Discovery Pod | Allison Colina | Pacific Salmon Foundation

Pacific Salmon Foundation: The brand work had pulled together our teams cohesively. It’s allowed us to lift the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

That must be gratifying when organizations are coming to you knowing that you’re putting the word out there and getting on people’s radars beyond the salmon community.

The third piece is those things aren’t possible without a great team. We’ve been able to grow the team. This new role is a part of that continued growth. Working with passionate and smart people is motivating. That’s how the good work comes together.

That’s a great segue to talk a little bit more about culture and team. You’ve talked about the work being fun and fulfilling for that matter. What is the culture you’re trying to create at the Pacific Salmon Foundation? What does that look like? How does that feel?

At Pacific Salmon Foundation, not just our development, marketing, and communications grown but the broader team has grown quite rapidly over the last few years and that’s in part because of some major grants that have been made possible from the federal and provincial government, as well as an increase in donations. If I were to describe the culture here, even with that rapid growth, it’s a warm environment. There are incredibly smart and passionate people. As we find in this sector, when you come together with that shared goal around a greater purpose, it drives a collaborative environment.

How do people come together? What does that collaboration look like when you think about that teamwork and dynamic?

I would describe the teamwork and dynamic here from the top right down to an all-hands-on-deck approach in how we work. That shows up differently depending on the day or the initiative. Our gala is an example where we see our whole team come together, whether that’s on set-up day or working across the board to support the donor communications right through to the wrap-up. We also see our program staff come out and volunteer for those events, and show up to pitch in and see how the donor community is coming out to support their work.

Vice versa for that matter, engaging at both levels so that flow goes both ways, which is so great to see as an organization grows. That’s excellent. Speaking of growth, you created this role, the Director of Development and Campaign. Why have you created it? What’s exciting about fundraising at the Pacific Salmon Foundation? You mentioned that fivefold increase in donors. You’ve got such a strong foundation to build from for that matter. Tell me more about this role specifically.

The rule is a signal of the growth that I’ve mentioned. Our team has been on this trajectory working to grow that donor base and get ready for the launch of a campaign. We’re at a point where we feel quite confident that we’re ready to entertain that. This rule will be essential for our organization’s success in launching and creating a campaign, motivating our donors, and in particular, helping us build a pipeline to continue increasing that donor base.

Do you want to talk a bit more about the campaign itself for that matter? I understand it’s the largest campaign in the foundation’s history or will be for that matter when it gets going. The prospect of building out that donor base for that matter is leveraging the support of some long-term donors and building from there. Is there anything else you want to talk about in that campaign context?

An important piece of context is what’s happening to salmon and their habitats. That’s driving the rationale of a major campaign. Approximately half of all salmon species are in a state of decline. Climate events are increasing rapidly. They’re having a huge impact on salmon and their habitats. We feel it is time to accelerate our fundraising so we can have a broader impact on our work with recovery and resilience. PSF does a lot of work with partners. We have this saying, “We never go it alone.” The fundraising that this role will be a part of will help to accelerate a lot of great work that’s already underway in the sector so we can respond in real time to some of the major challenges that salmon is facing.

That’s exciting and compelling. The case is underway. This person will have a hand in recruiting some of those volunteer leaders for that matter. Anything else you want to talk about regarding the specific director tasks over and above what we’ve talked about before?

The director will have a leadership role in the organization and around the campaign. We’re still shaping that case for support at an early stage and engaging some of our donors. There’s still a lot of exciting work that this person will be able to do to help shape the course of that campaign over the next few years. They’ll be supported by a team and leading a team so that will be quite fulfilling work as well to help accelerate a lot of that growth work we’ve already been doing. They don’t have their donor portfolio and are working hard on growing that pipeline.

That’s something I want to emphasize as well. That’s a compelling piece, fundamentally, that this person will be out-the-door fundraising, building relationships, managing its team, working with you, and working with the CEO and the campaign cabinet. There is cross-organizational support and collaboration.

We have an amazing group of loyal major donors who have been giving to the organization since its inception. The person coming in has an amazing community to build from as well.

With that, what does success look like? How would a director earn a gold star with you, your team, and the foundation?

In terms of what success would look like for this person, first and foremost, the salmon world is quite complex so getting a handle on what’s happening with the state of salmon, the complex network of partnerships that PSF works with, the context around First Nations rights and title, understanding that landscape, diving into the case for support, and then beginning to execute on that outreach is going to take a proactive and self-driven person to succeed in this role in terms of getting out there and starting conversations. I would describe it as a no-holds-back. It’s any call or connection you’re able to make to jump on and have that conversation with people to start getting the word out there about the need and the opportunity that we have here to have a significant impact.

Why would someone want to leave their organization and come join you? What are some compelling reasons for someone to come see you? I know what they are but I want to hear from you on what you think they may be.

One of the compelling aspects of this role is the ability to have a hand in shaping. Coming in, it’s not fully baked. You have an opportunity to put your thoughts on the campaign and our approach and help accelerate growth, which is an exciting thing to be a part of. I go back to that why piece. For someone who’s motivated to have an impact on our environment, especially close to home, you get to see that impact unfold while you’re working here. That’s an exciting and motivating thing to do.

Let’s talk a little bit more about some of those cultural aspects, if we may. We spoke a little bit about it before the kind of culture or environment that you’re working in but tell me a little bit about how the organization supports your staff as a whole person, that emphasis on bringing your best to work but also to the rest of your life at the same time.

It’s an important point of emphasis. No matter where you work, we’re all busy. There are a lot of competing priorities in any workplace. The culture top-down at PSF sees a person as a whole self. You have your work self but you also need that time to spend with your family, help refresh, whether that’s taking your vacation or PTO, and help balance that with the times when maybe there are a lot of deadlines or you’re having to travel or be out of the office quite a bit. There’s a priority given to making sure that people have the time and space to meet both of those demands in their personal lives and work.

That’s so important for the staff to be able to find that balance and for people to know that they’re supported by the organization and their families at the same time. What excites you most about the future of the Pacific Salmon Foundation? When you think about the next few years, what’s the most compelling piece for you?

We’ve launched a new strategic framework that sets out our priorities for the next years. That’s all couched in leading salmon recovery and resilience in the age of climate change and reconciliation. This is an outward shift for the organization. The campaign is going to be supporting all of this. Overall, it’s an exciting time of growth for the organization. It’s motivating to come in every day and be able to come up with new ideas and solutions to help execute our strategic goals in terms of some of the wins for the person who might take on this role when you get to see some of those tangible outcomes or impacts happening in real-time.

Allison, I’ve enjoyed this conversation. As always, I’ve learned a lot about the organization and what’s happening with salmon. Any final messages for potential candidates or people who are curious about learning more?

Working in the environmental space has been incredibly fulfilling for me. I can see that in all of our staff, especially our team who aren’t marine biologists and don’t come from that environmental sciences background. I would encourage anyone who’s maybe been curious about what it might be like to work in this space to reach out to you and learn more about the work of PSF. As much as we’re very focused on one species, the ripple effects of that work are significant. That’s maybe an area that someone might want to dig into a little more to better understand what type of impact they can have in this role.

Working in the environmental space is incredibly fulfilling. Click To Tweet

That’s a great summary and analogy for that matter. The ripple effect piece is that salmon are at the nexus and heart of so many different things and are affected by so many different things, from climate change and reconciliation efforts and things like that. Also, the reliance of other species on salmon and vice versa for that matter, too.

When you think about those who love nature and that being a draw for living in a place like BC and the things that we hold dear like our forests, whales, eagles, and all of that, the linchpin to that is the health of Pacific salmon. Being able to work on that is a fulfilling thing.

With that, if anybody is interested in learning more beyond this conversation, I can be reached at [email protected]. The role is posted on our website and your website as well. There’s a lot of information on your website. Kudos to you for your rebrand. The nature of the work that you have on your website is quite comprehensive and focused on those tangible aspects. I encourage people to have a look at the Pacific Salmon Foundation website to learn more about this wonderful organization. I appreciate your time. It’s a great conversation. I’m sure we’ll chat again soon.

Thanks, Christoph.

Thanks, Allison. All the best.

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