As a requirement for being awarded an education scholarship from AFP Greater Louisville, the recipient must share a reflection about their educational experience. Below is what last year's scholarship recipient, Lena Iwu, Donor Relations Manager for Home of the Innocents, had to share.
Thanks to the AFP Greater Louisville Chapter, I was awarded a scholarship that helped pay part of my tuition for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy course Principles and Techniques of Fundraising. When I applied for the scholarship in January, my hope was to attend the course in person in Indianapolis in March, however, COVID 19 quickly shifted those plans. I was able to take the course online over an eight-week period beginning in September.
I was a bit leery of doing the course online for a few reasons. First, I am quite the extrovert and I thrive off being in a room with others and feeding off their energy. Second, I had never taken an online class before and was nervous about keeping myself motivated weekly to complete assignments, along with my normal workload and was concerned I would be doing a lot of coursework on nights and weekends. What I quickly learned was that the material was so engaging, and the instructor did a great job of keeping participants connected that these fears were not even issues. Weekly, I logged on to begin the readings and coursework and found myself learning new things about the profession that were best practices that I could immediately take back to my team and begin to implement. I also found it reassuring to learn about things that my organization already had in place and ways to enhance those practices in order to improve our daily work. I learned about gift range charts, creating a fundraising plan, and the donor pyramid. While these were tools I had heard of throughout the years, it was nice to go more in depth and learn the reasoning behind them and when to use them. Also, we had a whole week dedicated to capital campaigns. This was insightful because I have never been part of a capital campaign, as I am fairly new to the world of fundraising. The information for this week took a deep dive into the components of a capital campaign and I got to perform my own assessment to determine if Home of the Innocents was ready to embark on a capital campaign journey. Each week, there were opportunities to apply the skills and tools we were learning to our organization which made the learning more engaging and realistic for me.
In addition to our online weekly modules, we had the opportunity to engage with peers through discussion activities. The instructor would post a question or a topic and students would respond and engage with other responses. I found this so helpful because I had the chance to connect with others about their experiences and learn more about things they had tried that had worked, or sometimes failed, and what they learned and how they would adjust moving forward. I also had the chance to share my own experiences and provide insight to people that were struggling in areas where I felt my organization might have some helpful tips. One example that sticks is
talking about return on investment (ROI) with events. After a couple of peers shared that when they looked at the events their organizations held, their ROI was extremely low and they did not have the staff capacity to continue. I was able to talk about how our organization recently reviewed our ROI for all of our events and decided to narrow our focus to one signature event per year. I talked about what we learned from that task and how we modified our calendar to ensure that our ROI was increasing while eliminating events. It was great to talk to others about this experience and get their feedback, while also feeling like I was helping them.
Overall my experience was extremely positive. I would recommend this course to other fundraising professionals, looking to deepen their experience of those best practices for our field. This course provided me with many tools to take back to my team and share. In addition, I finished this course feeling more confident in my career and moving forward.
KY, Greater Louisville Admin