What The Conference And The Fellowship Have Meant To Me…
When I first applied and received the scholarship for the Diversity and Inclusion Program I wasn’t sure what to expect. Relatively new to the fundraising field, and like many, not working solely in that capacity, I assumed I had received a truly unexpected gift and would see where it would take me.
From the outset I began to realize how much I had to learn. Beginning with the initial webinars I felt truly inspired by the new ideas and views that were being shared with me. Then the posts from other fellows began and I wondered if I really belonged in this cohort. Everyone seemed to have more experience in this field – more education related to the fundraising field specifically, more knowledge of the industry, more contacts with those in the non-profit sector or their community. The fellowship has truly challenged me, as my last real brush with education was almost two decades ago and not related to this field. I was feeling as if there had been a mistake made investing in me. My underlying hope was that I would extract enough from the experience to make a real difference at the Downtown Mission where I work.
Meeting my mentor was definitely an awakening. For the first time I began to see this fellowship as an opportunity for personal growth, how it relates to my career and my future in this industry. I now have a plan – where I want to be and when, not sure exactly which steps will get me there, but I have a goal. If my mentor provided an awakening, congress was an epiphany. Our Diversity and Inclusion session the day before Congress began with Hamlin Grange, he was incredibly inspiring. F inally getting the chance to meet all of the other fellows in person and learning about their work, experiences and all of the many different organizations represented was an education unto itself. That day, through discussion with the other fellows, was the first time I had felt that I too might have something to bring to the table.
Then congress proper began – the plenary speakers were passionate and inspiring. I now watch Dan Pallotta Youtube videos as a form of entertainment! The highlight of my sessions were those providing small shop fundraising supports and those based around youth/millennial involvement. We were extremely fortunate to have three members of our staff at the conference and we brought back so many new and creative ideas to add to our existing fundraising game plan. Specifically, we returned with a strong urge to produce film!
As it happens, with the conference being held in late November, we returned home to the busiest time of year for our organization. Most, if not all, of our new and creative ideas had to wait. The task at hand took precedence and we made it through (just barely) the holiday season alive and well! Now that the holidays are behind us we had the time to start putting some of our new tools into action.
A brainchild of myself and our Director of Development, Fiona Coughlin. We planted the seed for this idea after a session at congress and we are truly thrilled with the end result of our first production. We have plans for a series of “grassroots” videos highlighting event participants and volunteers that we should be “shooting” over the next couple of weeks.
Now, five months into the fellowship, I feel I have hit my stride. I have made new and solid connections with those in our industry, I have finalized my project plan which will effect real change within my organization and those who work, volunteer and utilize its services. I feel I am more aware of my industry and I feel inspired in a multitude of ways I was not anticipating – professionally and personally. This opportunity has been a true blessing and I will remain grateful for the education and experience it has provided.