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Meet Jane McGrath from American Bible Society

Jane McGrath is the Director of Digital Transformation and Partnerships at American Bible Society. Jane’s journey into fundraising started with her time as the director of a Christian elementary school and has since led to almost 15 years of service at American Bible Society.

In this episode of RKD Group: Chat, Jane shares her calling to serve faith-based causes, advice for female leaders and perspective on digital innovation and transformation.



Show chapters

  • 1:08 Her journey into nonprofit fundraising
  • 4:44 What called her to serve at American Bible Society
  • 9:17 Why she focuses her efforts on digital transformation and innovation
  • 12:19 Challenges she faces in her day-to-day
  • 17:20 Advice for other female leaders
  • 20:00 Memorable moments from her career
  • 24:26 Advice for other faith-based fundraisers

Meet our guest

Jane McGrath - 1200x627



Kate McKinley

Welcome back to Group: Chat, a podcast by RKD Group.

Each episode features short chats with professionals who have been called to serve in various roles and missions throughout the nonprofit sector. By showcasing these stories, we hope to shine a light on the amazing individuals working for good in such compassion-driven roles.

Today's guest is Jane McGrath, Director of Digital Transformation and Partnerships at American Bible Society.

I am particularly excited to tell Jane’s story because her journey into nonprofit fundraising was a little indirect, but her skills as a leader and her vision for a life that makes an impact on people are what have made her so successful as a fundraiser.

She considers herself a lifelong learner and builder, and she uses these traits to shape her point of view as an expert and practitioner in digital transformation and innovation.

Jane shared so many impactful and profound stories from her career, and I can't wait for you to hear them. So, without further ado, let's hear from Jane McGrath of American Bible Society.

Jane McGrath

Thank you for having me. I actually, Kate, just as a young child remember that fundraising was not one of the things I wanted to do when I grew up. But I did want to have an impact on people and be involved with helping people. And so I started my career more in the hospitality and retail sectors, a little bit of banking in there, and then wound up coming to and having an opportunity to be the director of a Christian Elementary School.

And at the time, the school was sponsored by a church, that was an outreach to the community. So it was really rewarding for me, but as I spent several years there, the culture of the school began to change, and my families and my faculty started to just see a bigger vision for the school and how it was impacting not only their families, but their community. And it was such an interesting intersection of the faculty coming to me and telling me about a vision they had for a, to grow the school into a junior high and possibly a high school. They envisioned a new school building, that is growing outside of the church.

And then also, families separate from that started to come to me and say, or to ask, you know, Jane, what are, what's the vision for this school? Where can we go? This is so important to our community. And they wound up being pretty significant contributors, major donors, to what is now a middle school and a school building there. But at that intersection, I didn't know anything about development.

And so, I was also pursuing a master's in organizational leadership, and one of the electives was a development course. And so I took it, thinking, you know, I need to understand this, understand what development is and how to do it well. And part of that, part of that class, we dove into a book called “Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry” by Thomas Jeavons, and one of the core tenants of fundraising, according to him, is that it is a beautiful opportunity not only to serve the organization that you're fundraising for but also to grow the faith journey of people who are giving and people who are, who are your donors. That realizing that generosity is really the donors’ confidence in God's calling on their lives. And it's not so much about what we need but what is going on in the donor's heart.

And so that was fascinating. And really turned my understanding of what fundraising was. Because before that, I was essentially sending two letters a year out to my families, who are already paying a hefty tuition, and inviting them to give to the school. But I didn't understand the baseline of generosity in a donor's heart and that fulfilling faith journey that it provides. And so, that's kind of how I got into fundraising … I was, I was presented and invited by donors to consider that. And, at that intersection, it just was a real turning point in my career, and I wanted to know more, and I wanted to do more.

I did not live to see the culmination of all of those things where there is now a middle school and a school building, but before that all happened, I was called to American Bible Society and digital fundraising. And so, that's where I am now for the last decade and a half.


Okay. I want to pause here for a moment and revisit Jane’s calling to serve people.

You'll hear her mention it several times throughout our conversation. And I think it's something that many in the nonprofit space can relate to. And though she may have indirectly found herself in the fundraising space through her role as the director of an elementary school, her calling to make an impact on people's lives made it such a seamless transition.

Jane shared with me that her calling to serve through faith was a big motivator throughout her career. And so, I wanted to dig a little bit deeper into her journey at American Bible Society.


Yeah. So, I learned about American Bible Society.

When I did, I didn't submit my resume to any particular job opening. I just submitted it to the organization, just to kind of explore who they were and what, you know, what my experience might lend to it. And so, I wound up getting the job interview. And what I learned was that American Bible Society does amazing work. And they actually just help to get the Bible to people who don't have one, whether that's because it's not in their language or because they can't afford it.

Or maybe it's because of, you know, where they live or a situation that they're in that makes it just difficult to get one. And to me, that sounded really exciting and something that I could see myself being a part of. And so it struck me, mostly, that the organization was truly raising their hands to the, to the relevance of the Bible and its message in the United States and really for around the world. The Bible, to me personally, has always been relevant, and I believe it can be for other people if they have the ability or the opportunity really to experience it for themselves and learn the truths for themselves.

So the job offer wound up being to help them build a digital fundraising program. And before that, they were literally sending out one email a month, so there really wasn't a program. There wasn't any attention to that, and it sounded to me that that was a really neat and valuable opportunity to a cause that I really believe in, and I was excited that they were really raising their hand for the Bible and its relevancy.

So, like I said earlier, to be honest, I never expected myself to be in the field of fundraising, but I'm glad it worked out this way. In fact, it's kind of what keeps me here.

Digital marketing and digital fundraising is really exciting. It's challenging. It's changing all the time. You know, the speed of technology and the trends are just, just so fascinating, and it's a space that is really, to me, really riveting work. And also, what you see here really is how American Bible Society is evolving. We just get better and better, and we strive to get better and better at how we do the work that is accomplishing our mission, now over two hundred years, of providing the Bible, and we're still iterating and trying to get better in our translations and our formats and so forth.

But I think, even more importantly in today's world, that we're continuing to look and grow and refine how we help people to read and engage with scripture.

And I love that we partner, with other organizations and other Bible societies to do just that so that more people can discover the Bible's relevance and it’s truth.

And I guess I, I really wouldn't want to miss out on what God is doing next, to be honest with you, through, through this evolution and so forth. The Bible Society is really trying to advocate for the Bible, and I love that. That's, I'm all about that in the Northern Country and especially in the digital marketing world. It's, it's really a part of what I do. Yes, I sit in the fundraising and advancement arm of the organization, but, you know, we, we do share scripture, and we do try to … that's part of who we are and what we do in my team where people, where we help people to engage with scripture and share in their own communities, and that's advocating for the Bible when they're sharing it digitally and through their platforms and so forth. And it's advocating for the truth.

And then donors who believe in the power of the Bible and its message, they're advocating by becoming partners with us―partners through their generosity to spread the Bible and the gospel message. So, it's just really been a privilege to be part of it. A lot of hard work, but a real privilege to be part of that whole journey. And, yeah, that's why I'm still here.


So, I mentioned at the outset that Jane considers herself a lifelong learner and a builder, and I think that is so evident in this clip when she shared that she went to American Bible Society without a clear role or path in mind but really with the sole motivation to learn about their mission and see where she could help make an impact the best. As she shared, she landed in digital marketing and has since held roles in digital transformation and innovation for the past decade and a half.


Yeah. It kind of goes back to the beginning when I was first interviewing and, you know, the gentleman had a huge whiteboard. And there were several different opportunities, and he goes, “You know, does this digital one sound interesting to you?” I said yes.

And at the time American Bible Society I think was, you know, probably a hundred thousand dollars a year. It was a small digital program, and they wanted it to be the biggest, of course.

And so, just building that. I'm again, I'm a builder. So, once I got to a certain point, I kinda got a little not bored but, you know, I always needed something, you know, a new, bigger goal to start to building towards. And so, that's kind of why I stayed in digital because there's so much to do. There's so much opportunity. There's so much, you know, change all the time, but my role looked a little bit different as my career at ABS has evolved.

And so, I started out more on the, a little bit on the project management and management side. And then moved into more of a senior manager, and I had a team to really help internally with the work that was being done, the strategy, the analysis, and so forth. And then, I moved into digital innovation because the organization had a need for that to, kind of, to be able to grow. We needed to see beyond what we were doing.

And instead of just pressing on the program and optimizing the program, we wanted to, to kind of see and explore some bigger things. So, I was able to work on piloting a couple of new, program ideas within the scope, and that lasted for a couple of years. And then I got the opportunity to move into director, and we call it Director of Digital Transformation because that's exactly what's happening right now. Like, everything is transforming.

Yes. You know, the market is changing so much. The digital tools are changing, and technology is changing. The way our organization is structured, has changed. So there's a lot going on. So, it really is transforming, and we're working towards more and more use of our partners in the industry and in creative and so forth. And so, transformation partnerships is really the direction. So, it's a newer role, kind of a newer focus at that director level.


As you can probably imagine, her day-to-day and a role focused on digital transformation is constantly evolving and changing, but it really fits her desire to learn and build and continuously challenge herself so well.


Digital's so complex. And, you know, again, because I'm a builder … and it fits so well because of that. It's daily, and it's a weekly evolution of what's going on. I think the most important thing I do is to make sure that every piece of our work is moving us towards our organizational priorities and our specific goals for digital marketing.

Which are, you know, the end goal is to generate revenue for the organization for our ministry programs, but there's so much more in digital marketing. We don't believe that it's a transaction. We believe that, that digital marketing and fundraising is a relationship with people. And so, meeting them where they are at for us is, you know, they're engaging in scripture, they're engaging in prayer, and how can we serve them and provide a way for them to immerse themselves in scripture, in that, in that faith journey, in a way that is encouraging their faith and growing their faith and helping them to share that with others in their community?

And so, digital's perfect for that. Now, yes, you can talk to your neighbor at the mailbox, but you can also hit “Share” and share it with specific people or groups of people and just engage with the scripture in a way that is sharing and impacting their communities.

Or, of course, they can learn about American Bible Society and give to us and, through us, they are giving scripture to people all across the globe, in some of the most difficult places, like I was sharing earlier, places that don't have the Bible in their own translation, places that are hard to get to even. And so, just to make sure that everything we do is aligned with those goals.

And then, of course, I do obviously a fair amount of just trying to ask the right questions. You know, why are we doing this? Who is the audience? What should they need? That outside-in perspective that really serves donors. I do a lot of ideating around channels, and strategies, and offers and evolving our offers so that they're more and more compelling for the donor to really understand what the need is that they're going to help to, to solve for.

And then, of course, working with the teams and helping to mitigate risk, and problem solve, and remove barriers and do a lot of learning.

Learning about what the new technology is, how we can use it, is, it’s important to us and those kinds of things, and making the challenges visible. I think it's important for the organization to see the successes, but also, you know, where are we challenged and where can we do better as an organization?


She also shared with me some of the challenges she is facing in her current role, and her answer is something that I wanted to highlight because I think so many in the nonprofit space can relate to it right now.


Yeah. I think I'm not alone, that the market is really, really perplexing right now. And navigating that has not been easy. It's not been linear at all.

And so, you know, while we're all experiencing that, it doesn't solve the problem either. And so, navigating really strong strategies in this environment, trying to figure out what our next best way to serve donors, our next best way to serve in ministry even is, it can't be knee-jerk reactions. It has to be very slow and thoughtful and very unified as an organization. I think the … we have been becoming a stronger organization because we're, not that we're forced to, but that the industry is, is kind of pointing us to doing so and to become, you know, more highly strategically focused and aligned as an organization, helps in that.

But it's definitely, it's definitely a very complex time because of the market and, you know, a lot kind of points back to our, you know, definitely tumultuous period within 2020 and 2021 and where we're landing and how we're resetting things based on the experience that we all had in those two years. Yeah, I think we're not landing yet, but we will.

We will. But that's challenging. That's challenging as a professional, I think, in any industry.


She's navigating this landscape every day as a leader tasked with a major charge like digital transformation. And because of this, I wanted to get her perspective and advice and, honestly, words of encouragement for other female leaders out there who might be in similar situations or roles.


To other female leaders, I love this question because I've thought about it a lot. And I would say, I would say, some important things to think about as a female leader is to be confident about being yourself. We add a lot of depth and perspective and wisdom and experience to any table that we sit at.

And I'd say that while the narrative, you know, sometimes in the marketplace is that, you know, we bring those soft skills, that does not diminish the fact that we need and have strong business acumen, and that's required; the hard business acumen, skills, experience and intelligence in your field are really required to succeed.

And I think the depth of that, as well as the soft skills, really provides a lot of value to, again, to any table that you're sitting at. And that's in the nonprofit space as well as any profession.

And sometimes I think, even people generally think, that, you know, the nonprofit work itself is on, like, the soft side of business. And that's not true. And so, you really have to bring both sides to it, be a learner, be all in, I think that's it. And with digital, especially, I think―well, actually, not just digital, but a lot―you have to be really entrepreneurial.

And so be, lean into opportunity, lean into learning, lean into stepping out of the box and trying things, and you know, when you don't succeed, you know exactly what to never do again.

And then in the middle of that, you will find some game changers if you're, if you're willing to really push and, you know, kinda get ahead of the speed of digital that it requires.


So, we've spent a lot of time diving into kind of the ins and outs of Jane's day-to-day role and how she leads in the digital space specifically, but as we close out the episode, I wanna get back to that original calling to serve because I think it so perfectly captures her heart and her passion, not only for fundraising, but also the work she's doing at American Bible Society.

And you can hear it so well in the story that she shared with me.


I had a couple of opportunities to go on international trips.

Primarily to gather stories that I can bring home to our donors and to share back with them the impact they're making by their gifts and their generosity to the work of the Bible cause. And a couple of just profound experiences there that I was, I was able to come back and share with donors.

One, I met a young girl who was trafficked by her family. And I got to ask her, through an interpreter, how, you know, how it was, what it was like to get a Bible of her very own And in that, I asked her what her favorite verse was. And number one, she was delightful, and she was joyful, and she sat there holding her Bible kind of in a hug the whole time we were talking. And so it had real value to her. And when I asked her her favorite verse, she started talking in her native language, and she was going on and on and on.

And I looked at the translator, and I said, you know, can you tell me what she's saying? And he says, Jean, she told me that she loves Jesus so much. And that she wanted to memorize the whole Bible. And so she started with Genesis one, and she has the first three chapters of Genesis already memorized.

And I was undone.

I was undone that that child had gone through horrific things in her life at the hands of her family, needing money to be able to survive, but she was the brunt of that and how the Bible, how she holds on to the words of the Lord so tightly in her life, and how she could be so joyful and spirited and beautiful in that space.


It's such a moving story. And to be perfectly honest, I had plans to ask her for leadership advice right after this question, but I felt the need to spend a little bit more time talking with Jane about, kind of, this inherent emotional connection to their jobs that so many people in the nonprofit space feel. And because of that emotional tie, I wanted to ask her how she decompresses and recharges at the end of a long week or a long day.


Yeah, to be honest, there's some seasons that I don't do a good job at that. Yeah. And some seasons that I kinda maintain a level balance, you know. And I think even in the times that it’s kind of a more level balance, there’s a little less urgency going on or something like that, even then, you know, if something's gonna wake me up at 3:00 a.m., it's probably having to do with something that we're doing with the fundraising or the programs.

It's just my heart, you know, so it's part of who I am.

I do make sure that I start every day in scripture. The days I don't, or sometimes the weeks that I don't, I'm just, like, so overwhelmed. I can't get to everything. I can tell a difference. And so that's really important to me, and then after that it's just, you know, relationships, healthy lifestyle as much as I can.

The other thing is, too, that we have important relationships in life, in our families and communities, also at work and building relationships across American Bible Society. I find, it is very much fulfilling in and of itself. And so, there's a lot of things that can go into that. And again, I think any, any person who's really passionate about what they do, it's, there isn't necessarily a line where I close down my computer at five o'clock and I wake up on Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. and open it again.


Jane was so wonderful to talk to, and her perspective as a female leader and agent for change through digital transformation was so moving.

I certainly learned so much from her, and I hope you did as well. As we close out this episode, I'd like to leave everyone with one final piece of advice from Jane McGrath, Director of Digital Transformation and Partnerships, American Bible Society.


Yeah, my advice, or my contribution, I guess, to faith-based fundraisers is that, at the end of the day, we have a message that really transcends all physical and emotional and tactical things that people get from nonprofits.

And we shouldn't take that lightly.

But we should also be encouraged that we get to be a part of what God is doing in our world through the work that we do. So, if we're coming to work for, you know, a full work week every week, we get to be a part of that, and it's really hard work. But we're investing in what really matters most. I believe I personally experience generosity as a true adventure. And so as fundraisers, I get to be a part of really an intimate relationship between God and the giver. And there's actually research, out there, pretty recent research, that tells us that there's a very high percentage of people who don't really have an intentional plan for how they give. And so, it's a real responsibility to deeply care for and steward donor relationships as really about the relationships wherein God is at work.

And I'd also say, and share with you, that there is a little book called “The Genius of Generosity,” and there's, I can pull out and share one nugget of truth from it. I highly recommend the whole book, but this nugget of truth says that we should refuse to view generosity as depriving yourself or depriving someone from something good. Generous living is joyful living. And so, we are really blessing people by inviting them into the work of our nonprofits.

The root of the word gen … the root of the word philanthropy is anthro, and it means caring deeply. So, essentially, it's a life-giving and sustaining care for another into the future. And that's, that's really what we do. We get to be a part of the donor’s journey of helping to care deeply for others into eternity, and that's pretty special, a pretty special thing that we get to do.

Group: Chat is a production of RKD Group. For more information, including how you can partner with RKD to accelerate growth for your fundraising and nonprofit marketing, visit

RKD Group

RKD Group is North America's leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, social service, disease research, animal welfare, rescue missions, and faith-based charities. RKD Group’s omnichannel approach leverages technology, advanced data science and award-winning strategic and creative leadership to accelerate net revenue growth, build long-term donor relationships and drive online and offline engagements and donations. With a growing team of professionals, RKD Group creates breakthroughs never thought possible.



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