In early October, a group of four South African higher education fundraising directors and two program officers from Inyathelo, a South African non-governmental organization, came to Indianapolis and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to take a custom course with The Fund Raising School.
Taught by faculty members Drs. Tim Seiler and Genevieve Shaker, and The Fund Raising School Director Bill Stanczykiewicz, the group learned about leadership in the workplace, digital fundraising and media, and donor motivations.
To start with, what is a custom course?
“We partner with a wide range of organizations and design the custom courses based on what the specific group wants to learn and accomplish,” The Fund Raising School associate director Liz Jackson explained.
Custom courses can range from a two-hour workshop or training to a five-day course, with a great deal of variety and flexibility when it comes to the design and content.
“Inyathelo and over 90 other organizations across the United States and the world benefited from a custom course this year,” Jackson said.
For Inyathelo, their five-day course provided them with important, up-to-date information about current trends, including specific, relevant South African data. One of the topics that stood out was leadership, since all of the participants have leadership positions in their universities.
“I learned how transformational and authentic leaderships remain as key success factors within philanthropy,” said Mari Booysen, Director in the Advancement and Partnerships Office at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Another important part of the curriculum was the DISC assessment, which is an evaluation that individuals take to figure out their behavior/personality styles.
“What stood out to me was the DISC assessment and what it means in terms of my current relationship with my colleagues, donors, and other stakeholders,” said Karen Coetzee, Senior Manager of Development and Alumni at the University of Johannesburg. “It taught me to think of other people’s characteristics in terms of the DISC and how we can strengthen one another.”
For Inyathelo, The Fund Raising School put together an entirely new course, although custom courses can vary in how much they differ from The Fund Raising School’s public courses. (The Fund Raising School also offers public courses, which are open to anyone interested in learning more about fundraising.)
“Depending on what the organization wants and needs, we can offer the same content and agenda as a public course with a few small changes, or create an entirely new course,” Jackson explained. “Custom courses are flexible because they are intended to help organizations address the specific needs in their communities and build capacity. We can tailor it to fit exactly what an organization needs.”
The knowledge and skills learned by the Inyathelo group will indeed help build capacity and address needs in their institutions.
“The training also reaffirmed us as fundraisers in knowing that this is a profession in its own right and one that adds value to organizations that rely on philanthropic income to function,” said Zwakele Ngubane, Acting Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the Durban University of Technology.
Annamia Van den Heever, Director of Institutional Advancement at the University of the Free State, agreed: “Not a day goes by when I do not recall a nugget of wisdom from the course. I am better equipped to tackle the job that needs to be done.”
Abby Rolland is the blog content coordinator for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.