It started with a piece of mail.
Community Foundation of Boone County (CFBC) President and CEO Kristi Reynolds had been thinking about doing her own professional development, but when she saw a mailing from IUPUI and The Fund Raising School, she started to imagine how CFBC could maximize the potential of The Fund Raising School courses.
“CFBC has made it its focus to be a nonprofit leader and convener in our community. We want to help nonprofits become stronger internally and provide better services,” she said. “We want to build capacity in those organizations in a way to promote efficiency. When they thrive, our community does as well.”
Working with CFBC program director Barb Schroeder, Reynolds identified the Certificate in Fund Raising Management, which consists of four courses provided by The Fund Raising School, as the best way to maximize CFBC’s resources.
“The Certificate in Fund Raising Management stands as something that is nationally recognized and provides great value,” Reynolds said. “Our participants could leave with a professional certificate and gain valuable experience.”
The certificate program would not only provide a great education, but also would be a starting point for building new relationships.
“When you put nonprofit directors in the same room, they’re going to learn about the others they’re with and learn about their organizations and work on establishing partnerships,” Reynolds said. “When nonprofits partner together, they’re maximizing the limited amount of resources that are in our community. At the certificate courses, that’s exactly what happened.”
From March-June 2017, 40 nonprofit executives sat and learned together through the courses Principles and Techniques of Fundraising, Developing Major Gifts, Developing Annual Sustainability, and Managing the Capital Campaign, and the courses had an immediate effect.
“Two of the organizations focused on youth mentoring started to build a relationship and realized that they could merge to provide better services; it was a great fit,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds says CFBC is also seeing other results, such as more sophisticated and strategic fundraising in the community.
“You see annual campaign mail that uses the techniques taught in class; it’s personalized, tells a story, it’s succinct,” she said.
The nonprofit leaders themselves listed benefits of taking the courses:
“I now have specific tools to become more efficient in my fundraising.”
“(Being able to) network with others in the county and brainstorming ideas with them.”
“I appreciated learning about evidence-based concepts and strategic action steps that I can take to help my organization raise more funds to serve my community better.”
Five CFBC staff members also attended the training, and Reynolds said the group all being “on the same page” and learning the same techniques and ideas as other nonprofits were helpful benefits from earning the certificate.
“We’re a nonprofit too; we’re always learning and trying to use best practices and understanding how we can work with our community and our donors more efficiently,” she said.
And Reynolds and CFBC have no plans on stopping. As part of the Certificate in Fund Raising Management, participants are required to take one mandatory course and three out of four other core courses. CFBC is going to offer the last core course Planned Giving: Getting the Proper Start in March.
In addition, Reynolds has shared the success of the courses with other community foundations around the state.
“This was a pilot program. Since then, I have spoken about the process and initiative with other community foundations throughout Indiana,” she said. “I sit on our state community foundations committee and I spoke at a recent community foundations CEO retreat about the benefit of a partnership with The Fund Raising School and how they can duplicate this process and support nonprofit agencies within their own communities. When nonprofits are stronger, the community is stronger.”
What does Reynolds hope to see in the future?
“We’re really grateful for our partnership with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Fund Raising School. Hopefully, we can take it to the next level and other community foundations and organizations will use this program and we can really raise the level of nonprofit professionals across the state.”
Abby Rolland is the blog content coordinator for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.