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Meet Our Team Monday: 10 Questions with Rescue Mission Team Leader, Shawn Saunders

It’s week 6 of our “Meet Our Team Monday” series! As we prepared for the AGRM Conference this week, we sat down with our Vice President of Client Services & Rescue Missions Team Leader, Shawn Saunders.

Shawn’s passion for rescue missions and their ministries is just one of the many reasons we are blessed to have him as part of the DBA team. We sat down with Shawn and asked him our 10 questions. Let’s see what he had to say…

shawn meet our team header


  1. What did you do before joining Dickerson, Bakker & Associates? 
    I completed two Master of Arts degree programs at a local seminary here in Raleigh-Durham (2007-2010) and was planning to begin a Ph.D. program in Apologetics and Theology in the summer of 2010. However, I started a recovery program in the Raleigh-Durham area (RDU) that included a working farm capable of housing up to 12 men; a transitional recovery phase, which operated multiple transitional houses throughout the Triangle; an outpatient counseling center; four unique program tracks, with both residential and outpatient options; and an educational component that hosted two regional conferences and various workshops and recruited interns from several colleges and graduate programs throughout RDU and Virginia.
  2. Where did you go to college? 
    A small Bible college of 2,000 students located in Crown Point, Indiana called Hyles-Anderson College. It’s similar to a Bob Jones or Pensacola. I grew up in a very conservative church that encouraged me to enroll in this type of school. Would I still attend there knowing what I know now? Absolutely not! But this was God’s plan for me and I’m grateful for what I learned and what it gave me. 
  3. How did you hear about Dickerson, Bakker & Associates? 
    I met Derric Bakker in 2008 where I served as the Director of Stewardship for the Durham Rescue Mission. He was our capital campaign consultant. 
  4. What made you decide to come work for Dickerson, Bakker & Associates? 
    Derric and I actually talked about my joining his team in 2010 as a part-time 1099. However, I felt led to start and build a recovery program. This aspiration was actually fueled by consulting. I began consulting with a start-up nonprofit in 2010 and partnered with its founders to expand it into several enterprises, which is where I served up until 2014. Due to how fast we grew and how much money God had enabled me to raise for a start-up ministry, several other local ED’s sought me out to work with them in a consulting capacity. In 2014, Derric and I resumed our conversations. I had thought about getting out of nonprofit work altogether and was pursuing sales jobs in addition to fundraising positions. Derric called me one day and asked me if I had given much thought to consulting. My answer was yes and because I had ministered in a consultant capacity with several local nonprofits, I could see the potential. On my first day on the job in September 2014, I was with Derric at a rescue mission in Tennessee. During our first meeting with the organization’s CEO, I knew that I was where I needed to be and God really gave me a peace that all of my experiences and gifting had brought me to this point. I saw more clearly my vocational purpose and the role that He now wanted me to play in His grand story of redemption.So in sum, God orchestrated all of it; that much I can promise you! 
  5. What do you look forward to most when starting to work with a new client? 
    I look forward to helping them see what’s possible, and that while major gifting is definitely an art, it’s also a science, and that with sound, creative strategy and God’s blessing, anything is possible! Once a large gift comes in, or we’ve gotten through a successful annual fund campaign, they begin to see it and some actually discover that they’re good at fundraising. 
  6. What is one goal you hope to achieve with a client when starting a new project? 
    To earn their trust and for them to see my heart—that I’m called to this and that they’re going to get everything that I’ve got. And what I don’t have, our team does, so I want them to know that they’re in good hands and that we’re in the boat with them. 
  7. What is your favorite part about being a part of Dickerson, Bakker & Associates? 
    Working with so many talented and good hearted people, and secondly, seeing our clients overcome, grow, and flourish. 
  8. What’s the best/craziest thing that has happened to you out in the field? 
    I’ve done so many things outside of the box when it comes to fundraising that it’s hard for me to quantify just one thing. Two that come to mind: I’ve been homeless for a night with college kids to raise funds by including major donors in what we were doing. I had my brother attend a tour with major donors one time because they had a daughter his age. My plan backfired because they began dating and later got married!  
  9. What is one thing about you that might surprise people? 
    Although I appreciate many contexts and cultures, that I’m a simple, country boy at heart, having grown up at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, and that my accent used to be so thick that it was difficult to understand me at one point in time. One of our consultants conveys that I’m a sophisticated man in a country boy’s body. I guess that’s true. I say that it might surprise people, because it has before. I think that it’s hard for people to initially peg me or to know which bucket to place me in due to a broad range of interests and experiences that God has afforded me.
  10. What is there anything else you’d like people to know? 
    My goal for 2016 is to become more enamored with Christ.  

Click here to learn more about Shawn, read his professional biography & how he uses his gifts to motivate & lead the the Dickerson, Bakker & Associates team each day! 

About the Series: Over the next few months, we will do a weekly feature of one of our team members giving you ‘insider access’ to our group of unique & talented folks who are in the field working with DBA clients day in & day out. We are proud to have built a team of industry experts from across the nation who not only know the in’s & out’s of the business but have a demonstrated track record of achieving real success. 

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