Get to Know Fairmount Ventures: Aimée Miller, Senior Vice President & PartnerBy Adela Smith | November 1st, 2017
Aimée Miller, Senior Vice President & Partner, focuses her client work at Fairmount Ventures on resource development strategy, program design, and annual and campaign fundraising to benefit a diverse mix of arts, civic, environmental, education, health, and human service organizations. Much of Aimée’s work leverages her expertise as a writer and editor by crafting compelling messaging to help nonprofits increase revenues from public and private sources. Aimée earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied at the Annenberg School for Communication.
FV: You’ve been a partner for a majority of the 22 years that you’ve worked at Fairmount Ventures. How would you characterize the firm’s contributions to nonprofits in Philadelphia over the years? How would you characterize the contributions of nonprofits to the city we live and work in?
AM: I’m tremendously proud of the work Fairmount’s done since our founding in 1992, often quietly and behind the scenes, to advance and accelerate our clients’ missions and impact. While the specific needs of our client base sometimes shift – usually in response to policy changes, trends in philanthropic markets, and the evolving needs of its service communities – Fairmount’s business mission of helping nonprofits grow and thrive through planning and fundraising remains constant. The city’s nonprofit community inspires me daily with its creativity, willingness to advocate for constituents, and (this being Philly) its “get it done” spirit. Fueled by our support, our clients create new parks and green spaces, build affordable housing, connect families to jobs and education, spark joy through the arts, provide care and dignity for vulnerable people, and connect us as a community. Philadelphia thrives because of their leadership and empathy.
FV: What do you like most about your work?
AM: It’s hard to distill it down to one thing! On a personal level, whether I am in the office or out somewhere in the city, I’m happiest knowing that our work directly touches people’s lives for the better. I’m constantly humbled that our work takes me to parts of the city and region that get me out of my own bubble and helps me better understand how other people experience life in Philadelphia – both the positive and the challenging.
Professionally, I love helping organizations strategically position themselves to attract new resources to support their mission. As a writer by nature, I’m energized thinking about how a nonprofit can translate its vision and goals most effectively to stakeholders that want to invest in social good. The opportunity to work across sectors and nonprofit fields also provides an excellent vantage point to see the big picture, connect clients to opportunity, and learn something new. Our clients and our Fairmount team are all so smart, driven, and compassionate. We collaborate and build on each other’s expertise every day.
FV: What’s the best piece of counsel you can offer a nonprofit leader who might be grappling with what’s next for his/her organization?
AM: Know yourself. What does your organization do best, if not better than any of your peers? Next, how might you build on that core competency in the future while making sure that the people you’re serving will continue to benefit and advance from your efforts? Third, what do your customers – philanthropy, government, fee-based supporters, et al – think about your organization and what you should do next? While Fairmount takes a contextual, individualized approach to advising all of our clients, these questions ground and drive much of our work. Understanding your organization, your client base, and your markets is an essential starting point. This holds true whether a nonprofit is thinking about strategic planning, seeking new leadership, or launching a capital campaign.
FV: What are some of the project/client highlights that fuel your passion for nonprofit consulting?
AM: I’m privileged to support such a wide range of successful projects. As a lead in Fairmount’s resource development practice, I’ve advised and led many large grant applications and donor solicitation processes, resulting in tens of millions of dollars to help clients expand services or build a new asset. Some past highlights include securing multiple federal demonstration grants for community-based and mobile HIV testing, care, and prevention; raising private funds to reimagine and revitalize Franklin Square; and supporting public-nonprofit collaboration to bridge the digital divide in Philadelphia. Currently, I’m working on campaigns that will create a new public space for Holocaust education and remembrance in Center City, preserve and expand free play and nature learning opportunities for children in East Fairmount Park, and transform a facility and expand intergenerational programming for a human service organization in East Germantown, among others. Getting the “we got the grant” call from my clients makes my day, every time.
FV: From high school to college and throughout your career, you’ve called Philadelphia home. What are some of your favorite aspects of the city?
AM: Like all natives, I grew up steeped in Philly’s underdog attitude. But having lived briefly in Paris and D.C., and as someone who loves to travel and experience daily life in other cities, I embrace Philly’s strengths and potential. I’m honest about the city’s struggles to stay affordable and provide equal opportunity for all; that’s where our work comes into play. But I love our walkability, our diversity, our DIY culture that generates world-class food, music, art and community spaces on a shoestring, our increasingly more appreciated parks, and yes, our grit. Did I mention our food?