The Art of Caring About Others: JCU Welcomes Marianna Occhiuto

Fundraising is the art of teaching others the joy of donating. Henry Rosso

Marianna Occhiuto

On November 6, John Cabot University’s Community Service Program hosted Alumna Marianna Occhiuto (Class of 2012), who talked about her experience in fundraising and how it changed her life.

Occhiuto is currently Fundraising Manager of Agenzia Scalabriniana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, which is part of the SIMN Europe-Africa network.

Personal experience
In 2011, while she was at JCU, Occhiuto volunteered for 3 months in a refugee camp in Nampula, Mozambique, where she worked in a school feeding program. This experience shaped her passion for volunteering even more, and it taught her to be open-minded and put herself in other people’s shoes. When she came back home, Occhiuto decided to organize a marathon in her neighborhood in Rome to raise money for the refugee camp in Mozambique. She was able to raise 4,000 euros, enough to feed people in Nampula’s camp for several weeks.

Occhiuto graduated from John Cabot in International Affairs and then earned a Master in Fundraising at Bocconi University in Milan. She did an internship at the Italian Committee of the World Food Programme and another one with Terres des Hommes, a network of national organizations committed to promoting children’s rights. Occhiuto also worked for the Italian offices of the Susan G. Komen, an organization committed to fighting breast cancer.

Tips and advice
Occhiuto had some suggestions for people who want to undertake the fundraising career. “Education is a fundamental step for this path. After graduation, one must continue to take specific courses and preferably enroll in a specialized master’s program. Like every other sector, people who work in fundraising need to keep up to date because there are many tools and techniques that must be refined in the field and with experience.”

Occhiuto also recommended trying to have as many experiences as possible in the field: “Only by staying within the organization both as a volunteer and intern can one truly understand what the many facets of nonprofit and fundraising are.”

Finally, Occhiuto stressed the importance of networking. “I think everyone can teach us something, therefore networking and being in touch with people is essential. Yet, I still believe that a fundamental thing is to always be yourself and remember where you come from. ASSIF – the Italian Fundraiser Association offers the opportunity to get in touch with professionals in the sector. In Italy, there are several groups through which ASSIF provides training, courses, and initiatives. Even if this profession is not yet widespread, realities such as ASSIF can help raise awareness and network.”