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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 2017
Why Psi Chi Is Launching
a Fund-Raising Campaign:
We're Telling Our Psi Chi Story
Interview by Bradley Cannon, Psi Chi Writer/Journal Managing Editor
View this issue in Digital and PDF formats.

Why did you join Psi Chi? That’s a big question Cynthia Wilson seeks to answer.
At the end of January 2017, Cynthia officially became Psi Chi’s Director of Membership and Development, a brand-new position in our Organization. One of her primary goals: to create a new, successful, fund-raising program for Psi Chi, which to date had only pursued one limited fund-raising effort in 2014 to jump-start a new scholarships program. Today, we’ll share her thoughts so far, including why she believes people will be glad to Give Back to Psi Chi as well as some of her specific plans for the year ahead.
Cynthia’s Arrival
Before coming to Psi Chi, Cynthia was the Director of Donor Services at a local PBS affiliate, which involved working with the entire membership. She says, “That was exciting, and in my career, I’ve been able to work in the full spectrum of fund-raising. I’ve done special events, written grants, met with foundations and secured funds for them, sent direct mail, and much more.” Cynthia hadn’t been looking for a new job, but that all changed when a former coworker called her one Sunday afternoon to show her a position in the want ads for which she thought Cynthia would be perfect. Cynthia says, “I had been happy at PBS, but when I looked at the job description out of curiosity, I thought, ‘Wow, that sounds like a challenge that I’m ready for!’ ”
The Challenge
Psi Chi exists to serve our members and to provide them with valuable experiences. The organization, Cynthia says, is well-established, and she is eager for the opportunity to build out a new development platform from scratch. According to Cynthia, “I think that’s the story of why we are fund-raising: we want to be able to expand what we are doing for our members. Psi Chi deserves to continue, and I want to help make that happen.”
Psi Chi provides more than $400,000 in annual awards, grants, and scholarships. The organization also offers educational and publishing opportunities through Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, Eye on Psi Chi magazine, and the Organization’s new blog, Psi-Chi-ology Lab. Countless networking, research, and service opportunities are also provided at conventions, chapter events, and beyond.
And yet, Cynthia explains, “The number one thing we’ve got to do to raise more funds for our members is to tell their story. This starts with every undergraduate, graduate student, alumnus, and faculty member. What are those members’ backgrounds? How did they get where they are? What are their interests? What type of careers do they want to pursue? Our Executive Director, Dr. Martha Zlokovich, put me in touch with a grad student at the University of Granada in Spain, and it was so interesting to hear how this student was able to get a Division 52/Psi Chi International Travel Grant that let her attend her first national convention.”
As another example, Matt Freeman, an alumni member from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, recently told Cynthia this: “For me, Psi Chi means staying connected with the psychology field and the major we share that laid the foundation for my academic and professional career.”
Cynthia says, “The more direct interactions we can have like this with members, the better informed we will be about what they want and how we can serve them.”
What Mentors Do
“Giving back your time and your money—that’s what mentors do,” Cynthia declares. “They support things that they feel passionately about. And this is fortunate for Psi Chi because the whole concept of an honor society is that it helps you step up and become a mentor.”
Without a doubt, Psi Chi is flooded with passionate and brilliant mentors: advisors and officers across 1,100+ chapters, alumni members all around the world, Psi Chi Central Office staff, and Psi Chi’s Board of Directors. Cynthia says, “I’ve worked for a few nonprofits in my career, and board commitment is something that is often joked about: the board’s not engaged, the board’s not paying attention, they’re not showing up to meetings. But Psi Chi is in a position where we have an extremely strong board that is extremely committed to Psi Chi. Membership is so important, and to have the support of of our mentors is what’s going to make Psi Chi successful in membership and development.”
Psi Chi is 726,000 strong in mentors. “We’ve got to tell the story of our mentors, and hear back about what they are doing. We have got to find out what mentorship looks like to members like you. Do you lead a service project in the community? Do you take on a mentorship role in your church such as teaching smaller children? Do you assist your professors? For example, one mentor in psychology, Dr. Robert Cialdini, has a strong Psi Chi success story (see page 6) where he shows how Psi Chi helped him decide to attend graduate school. Stories like these will again inform us of how we can better serve our members.”
PBS, as a national organization, offered Cynthia a lot of connections. She says, “That’s where I really learned that none of us are successful just on our own. It really does take a team, and when I met with Martha and the others at Psi Chi, I really felt like Psi Chi has a strong team and that I could do some good work.”
The Millennial Generation
“The face of giving and development is changing. Everyone is concerned about the millennial generation and how they might be different,” Cynthia says. “One thing that has been heavily researched and talked about in the fund-raising world is that millennials want experience. They would much rather give money to an organization that helps them experience something that they couldn’t experience in any other way.”
The vast majority of incoming Psi Chi members are undergraduate millennials. This also places our Organization in a good place to succeed because providing positive experiences through mentorship, networking, and education opportunities are all areas where Psi Chi excels.
As Cynthia puts it: “My title, Membership and Development, is really all about making good experiences for our members. So again, we want to hear from them. We want to talk to them. I’ve already had the opportunity to speak with students, and it is interesting to hear their specific Psi Chi stories. For example, I’ve never done a longitudinal study, but it was fascinating to hear about it, what students had chosen to study, and why.”
Why Are We Asking Now?
“I think Psi Chi is facing something that all successful nonprofits face,” Cynthia explains. “Even though revenue comes from membership, we are giving out $400,000 in awards, grants, and scholarships each year and want to continually expand these benefits and other services. But if you keep that sort of operating model of only bringing in one-time membership fees and handing out more and more awards, grants, and scholarships, the bottom line will eventually shrink.”
“It is my understanding that this has happened with Psi Chi, where we have reached a point in our history where we need to focus on development by sending a message to every person associated with Psi Chi. We need to let them know that we are not strapped or anything like that, but that it is the natural progression of a nonprofit organization to raise funds in order to continue to grow. As we become stronger, we can provide so much more to our members; we want to be able to expand on that.”
Great Things to Come
Psi Chi’s 88th Anniversary is September 4, 2017. On this date, Psi Chi’s first-ever Annual Campaign will commence. Cynthia is very excited about this new way to celebrate our Organization’s rich history and prepare for a bright future. With 8 as the number of infinity, her goal this year is to raise $88,000 to sustain and expand what Psi Chi can offer its members. Donations will be accepted at and other means will be announced soon.
“Psi Chi can help you get into graduate school. It can help you network and offers mentorship opportunities. These are professional opportunities that you can take through the rest of your career.” Cynthia says. “Give Back to Psi Chi in order to ‘pay it forward’ for future members.”
So why did you join Psi Chi? What is your affiliation with our Professional Organization? How did you get involved with Psi Chi? What has Psi Chi membership meant to you?
Cynthia would love to share your Psi Chi story at



Copyright 2017 (Vol. 21, Iss. 4) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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