She’s a native New Yorker, she speaks three languages and she’s our biggest Regina Spektor fan. Emily Matos is our Development Coordinator and we think you should get to know her. So here’s the quick Q+A:
Where are you from? How is that a part of you?
I was born and raised in NYC. I consider myself a Nuyorican, blending my Puerto Rican background with unique culture of NYC. I’ve grown up in the same neighborhood, Chelsea, amazed at how it has changed over the years from a place of warehouses and meatpacking plants to art galleries and awesome restaurants. I spent some time in Florida getting my Bachelors in Business at the University of Miami, but being a New Yorker at heart, I had to return after I graduated.
Growing up in inner city New York, I was a part of the I Have a Dream Program. My sponsor supported my education from the third grade all the way through graduate school! I am definitely proud to say that I am a product of philanthropy, and couldn’t see myself doing anything for the rest of my life but help others.
First you ever heard about charity: water — go!
In a span of a month, I heard about charity: water in three different places: first, at lunch with a good friend, then, at a social media training for non-profits (all participants seemed to talk about was charity: water) and finally, while searching for fall internships through NYU, charity: water was one of the first listings to pop up. I had to learn more.
Give us your typical day at charity: water…
Literally, I start off with my daily coffee and toast. I manage around four different email accounts, being the first point of contact with many supporters, donors and partners, so my mornings are mostly emails. Throughout the day I research potential funding opportunities and make recommendations to the rest of the team. At some point I make matching gifts possible and coordinate special acknowledgments. I run donor reports that help the rest of the organization make strategic decisions. Somewhere in the day I sneak out to grab some fro-yo with the girls. By 6:30 p.m., I wrap things up.
And on a day off, what are you doing or aspiring to do?
I am an aspiring rock star! Not really, I am learning guitar and I practice everyday for at least 45 minutes. So far, I can play “Jesus Loves Me.” Other than honing in on my musical skills, I love just enjoying post-graduate school life, which means walking leisurely through the Village to get home, checking out Trader Joe’s for new items and actually getting to sleep before 2 a.m.
Give us a hidden gem — something you like about
charity: water that most people here don’t know…
I like that we have an open office, so we’re not hiding behind cubicles. At times it does get distracting, like when certain Aussies speak loudly on the phone, but overall its great to work at a place where we are all so connected and are relatively accessible to one another.
What charity: water program or practice in the field do you like the most and why?
I love the water and sanitation committees that are formed with each water project. In order for our projects to really change a community and be sustainable, the community also has to be involved, especially the women. It’s amazing that through the WATSAN committees, women have leadership positions for the first time and they take an active role in educating their community. It’s women’s empowerment through water.
Now… what’s the hardest thing about writing and coordinating grant proposals?
Since the beginning, charity: water has aimed to restore people’s faith in charity. We are a unique organization with a unique story and trying to communicate it via a formal grant proposal sometimes poses a challenge. The way we address our supporters via our blog or emails is not always the way to approach foundations. We are at the intersection of reinventing philanthropy while respecting the history and tradition of funders who’ve been around for decades. So far the amazing charity: water story has garnered the support of numerous funders and as we grow, hopefully so will our list of foundations and partners.
Give us what makes it worth it — what makes it rewarding to work here? Why?
Special acknowledgments. At first, it seemed overwhelming to write so many thank-you letters each day, but I realized that we never want to grow so large that we don’t personally thank our individual donors and grassroots supporters. With each letter, we attach actual photos from the field of the people in the countries we serve.
Once, a donor wrote back saying, “When I opened my mail yesterday from charity: water, I received an immensely pleasant, unexpected surprise . . . two photographs of the people who are being supplied clean drinking water. I was so touched and happy that I began to cry. This is the best gift anyone has ever given to me. I will cherish them forever… And I smiled just as big as any parent would smile, as I held my two pictures. Thanks for sharing the photographs. It allowed me to see their bright smiles of gratitude. It let me see their little hands wave to me in appreciation. It makes me feel like I’m there, too. And it made my day. I’ll get a special frame for them, because they are special to me.”
That response made every envelope stuffed totally worth it. Connecting our donors the people we serve will always be the most rewarding aspect of development.