Eric Heininger, CFRE
EDEN+ Fundraising Consulting
Des Moines, IA
Why is a 40 under 40 winner
1. Eric is co-founder of the Des Moines Fundraising Institute, a two-year program that provides professional development opportunities for Iowa development professionals and nonprofit executives, filling a need that exists in rural communities across the state.
2. In his local community, Eric has served as interim CEO of Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Iowa and was the lead volunteer fundraiser for Special Olympics Iowa's 5K run in 2017 and 2018.
3. He serves as president of the Iowa Medical Society Alliance and as a board member of the Iowa Medical Society Foundation.
4. Eric has supported fundraising campaigns for a variety of hospitals across the country, including the Children's Hospital of New Orleans, LCMC Health in Louisiana, MercyOne Des Moines Cancer Center, and others in metropolitan areas from Arkansas to Ohio.
Q & A
1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?
Growing up with a special needs sibling I learned the importance of quality healthcare in your backyard and wrap-around services for the whole family. Early in my career I also discovered the unique healthcare needs of the refugee communities here in the US. This personal experience and the needs of my neighbors pushed me toward philanthropy. From there I had the opportunity to consult for hospitals and services such as women’s health initiatives and brain injury rehabilitation across the country.
2. Why did you choose to make health care philanthropy your career?
I very intentionally chose to change my career and serve my community. I have a degree in engineering and started my career working for a Fortune 500 company that is vital to building homes and businesses across the world. But that wasn’t good enough. I needed to feel on a daily basis like I was making a difference in the lives of the poor, the sick, and the lonely. I wanted to build safety, dignity, and life. I discovered that my creative problem solving and straightforward communication skills were a natural fit for fundraising and philanthropy. Today I have the privilege to see an opportunity in the healthcare environment and assist generous individuals in achieving their goals that are based in love, compassion, and mercy.
3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.
I had been consulting with non-profit partners across the country for a few years moving from city to city as needed. After meeting my now wife in Des Moines and creating a home I decided I wanted to stay in the city and serve my local community. Des Moines is a generous community where every individual can make a difference. With encouragement from my wife Tiffani and friends I began my own consulting firm, EDEN+, named after my own little slice of paradise in the heartland, and have had the pleasure to leave my thumbprint across our wonderful city and the region. Being able to serve my neighbors has been rewarding and a true vocation.
4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?
My first job in high school was working at a landscaping nursery watering the tree plot for days at a time. The job was tedious and isolating but important. Skipping watering for even a couple of days made them wilty and unappealing. Sometimes the same tree would be on the lot of years but growing taller and taller each year. Patience and consistency continue to be lessons important to donor cultivation and stewardship. We must water those relationships regularly for them to be fruitful on the right day.
5. What are your future aspirations?
My future aspirations are to make my community the absolute best for my family, friends, and neighbors. I love what I do every day! Each investment we make has a lasting impact and I look forward to seeing how it will unfold over the next several decades.