By John Ferguson and Sarah Nathan
Fundraising can be a challenge for many nonprofits, especially when the person or persons responsible for overseeing the fundraising operations for their organization have little or no experience or training.
Turnover is a consistent problem in many communities—a problem that the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne (CFGFW) wanted to help solve. CFGFW partnered with Indiana United Ways to bring The Fund Raising School’s Certificate in Fund Raising Management (CFRM) to Fort Wayne in an intensive summer version of the program.
This version was designed as a cohort experience in which all 30 participants earned their CFRM together, building strong relationships amongst themselves throughout the summer. The program was so popular and successful that it will be offered again in Fort Wayne in 2019.
In another The Fund Raising School and Indiana United Ways partnership, nonprofit leaders in Grant County are participating in a similar program—with their own local twist—that supplements the CFRM with leadership development training.
Cohort learning has emerged as a powerful way for participants to learn, grow, and develop strong working relationships with others in their field. We are seeing the positive effects of working together and thrilled that The Fund Raising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is offering this career-changing curriculum by bringing it locally to those who may not otherwise get this opportunity.
John Ferguson, Indiana United Ways Manager
As a bachelor’s alumnus of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a holder of the Certificate in Fund Raising Management from The Fund Raising School, I know firsthand the value of the education these participants are getting. Watching them have those moments where something shifts in their thinking or “clicks” in a new way brings me immense joy.
As a staff member for Indiana United Ways (IUW), the state association serving all United Ways and United Funds throughout Indiana, I have seen firsthand the power of collaboration and partnership. When people work together in new ways, new and unexpected successes become possible.
Thanks to Community Foundations like Greater Fort Wayne and Grant County partnering with their local United Ways and with IUW, professionals who desperately need training are able to get it brought directly to them at a substantially reduced rate and they get to build a community of trained fundraisers that know each other and are comfortable reaching out for help or to collaborate when new challenges or opportunities arise.
Time will tell how successful these efforts will be, but based on the early returns and feedback so far, we are absolutely on the right track! Another new way to improve philanthropy to improve the world.
Sarah Nathan, associate director, The Fund Raising School
It is always a joy to spend time with passionate nonprofit professionals, and being part of the Grant County cohort of leaders was no exception. In early September, these individuals began their fundraising training in our signature course, “Principles and Techniques of Fundraising.” They were quick to apply and adapt the tools and knowledge presented in the course to their regional and organization contexts.
As I spent time with them, I was reminded of Robert Payton’s message that philanthropy exists because things could always be better. The individuals in our classroom were committed to the same idea that the lives of their fellow Grant County citizens could be made better through a multitude of ways—from the performing arts and museums to neighborhood associations and education initiatives. It was clear how much these leaders cared about and were committed to their community.
Over the four-day course, participants worked diligently on their case for support, identified organizational obstacles, devised strategies for engaging volunteers and board members in fundraising, and began a draft of what is, for most, the organization’s first fundraising plan.
But above all was the professional network of like-minded individuals dedicated to ethical fundraising, willing to support, encourage, and care for each other. Near the end of day two, one participant asked why there wasn’t an association of fundraisers in the area. We promptly replied that they are their own professional association now and encouraged them to continue with regular peer-to-peer mentoring, which they enthusiastically embraced.
One participant noted upon the course’s conclusion: “Thank you for opening the world of philanthropy to us.” There really is no better reward than empowering leaders like this to harness philanthropy to make their community a better place for all people to live. Thanks to the partners who have made this learning opportunity possible by investing in nonprofit leaders.