Well, I guess going to school was good enough for Jim, it should be good enough for me. I won’t say I am embarking upon a master’s degree, but I have signed up for some continuing education courses at New York University to give me an academic background in fundraising.
As I work to move into the nonprofit world, a recurring concern voiced by prospective employers is my lack of significant fundraising experience. I can’t say I agree with them that this is an issue and I can’t solve this perceived lack immediately, but I can at least give myself a basic understanding of the principles and look for more opportunities to apply them.
I get asked a lot if I have any trouble making the “ask.” That doesn’t bother me at all. In publishing we made the “ask” all the time. Yes, there was usually a check going in the other direction (to the author), but a lot of the process was parallel. Understanding what the other person was looking for or needing and communicating the reasons that you were the person to fulfill those needs are a good portion of the ask. Recognizing what the actual dollar figure for what the ask should be is not that different from calculating a potential advance.
So, beginning February 27th at the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, I will be taking Fundraising Concepts and Practices: Develop a Fundraising Plan. That course lasts through May 7th and meets each Monday night. I am also signed up for a one day seminar in late April called How to Be a Successful Fundraiser.
Guess all those times I made jokes about Jim going back to school are going to come home to roost. You can be one thing: I asked him immediately if he would look over my papers before I have to turn them in. I may be an old student, but I am not dumb. Oh, dear, I hope there isn’t a final exam. I am not sure I could take the stress.