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It’s hard to believe that we just completed the third session of the Institute. With only two more sessions, it feels like we still have a lot of topics to cover and more to learn about the participants. Our focus this week was fundraising and grant-writing. Our initial hope was to include strategic planning as well, but that was very ambitious considering the importance of all three of these topics and the large amount of material to cover during each of them!

During the fundraising portion, we asked the participants to each identify 10-15 people who they know – either personally or professionally. After they identified those individuals, we asked them to put a check mark next to the names who have the ability to give any type of donation. Once each participant brought their list to the back of the room, we counted over 200 potential prospects and over $100,000 worth of potential donations! I think sometimes we over-complicate this process of trying to figure out who to ask for donations and how much we should ask for. If each of your management level employees could create a prospect list and you ask your board members to do the same, I bet that you’d come up with a nice list of potential donors!

Grant-writing is a topic that I enjoy working with the participants on because of my coursework in the PUBA 764 Grant Writing course, as well as my professional experience. Just like fundraising, we tend to over-complicate the beginning steps of this process. Many of our participants were sharing that they tend to write each proposal based off of different grants that they find, but what that ultimately leads to is inconsistent program goals and evaluation methods, the inability of staff to report back on what was promised in the grant proposal, and a difficult relationship with program officers. In order to help break this trend, we took our participants back to the basics. We primarily focused on writing goal statements, action steps, and budgeting for those action steps. We had done goal writing last week when we focused on program development, but taking it a step further for one specific program turned out to be a lot harder than initially anticipated!

I’ve really enjoyed working with these participants and learning more about their programs. As we go into the last full day session of the Institute, it will be exciting to see how people are feeling about grant-writing and fundraising after taking the time to digest the information we shared last week. This week, we will focus on strategic planning, human resource management and financial management. We’ll have two guest speakers to discuss the latter two topics, and I’m excited to learn from them as well!

After we get through this week of the Institute, the focus of my internship will shift back to the top-secret project! We are rounding the corner of finishing up our first assignment for this client, and I’m hopeful to be able to share the details with you soon!

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