Today marks my last day at USN. It’s sad to leave because I really felt like part of the family in the Development Office at Columbus Collegiate Academy. I learned a lot about the work it takes to advance such an incredible organization such as USN.
Lately I have been helping with preparing for our big fundraising event, Launch Bash, which takes place on May 13th. I will come back to Columbus after I graduate so I can volunteer before, during, and after the event. It will be nice to see all the hard work pay off as our sponsors come to St. Charles Prep School on that night to enjoy the event. I have been emailing back and forth with our sponsors to finalize their payments and provide them with our W9 and Invoice.
Additionally, I am contributing to a grant proposal for $15,000, which outlines how we would like to install permanent alumni services centers at the CCA- Main and CCA-Dana Ave middle schools. Fortunately, I have received a lot of support and guidance from my co-workers as I edit the proposal. I am glad that I gained grant-writing skills throughout this fellowship as it taught me how to articulate our organization’s mission and the teamwork that it requires.
I will miss the positivity and encouragement that radiates from USN. Carmen Boy has been an incredible mentor and I am beyond thankful for her patience with me as I tried to figure everything out and learn about USN’s development. The environment of USN influences others to be passionate about their work and that is why I am glad they gave me the opportunity to be part of their mission during my senior year.
Last Thursday, April 21st, Local Matters held it’s official grand opening, welcoming, friends, supporters, and press into our new office space. Over 100 people attended and squeezed into our office, community kitchen, and conference rooms to see the space, see examples of classes being taught in the culinary classroom, and taste yummy food from cooking demos. Much preparation went into this event, and seeing the hard work of the entire staff was inspiring and insightful to what a career in this field would look like. I spent most of my time organizing nametags for the event, constantly refreshing the Eventbrite page as new people RSVP’d just hours before. Even during the event I had to sneak away to a neighboring office to print more because we ran out of extra blank name tags!
You can see a little more about our grand opening event and the new office in our Business First article! http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2016/04/22/photos-local-matters-and-its-community-kitchen-now.html
With just this last week at Local Matters, I’ll be trying my hand at actual grant writing. I’m grateful that the staff is trusting with me this endeavor (obviously they’ll still be proof reading it), because I know it is a valuable skill in the nonprofit world.
Finally, I have had such a wonderful time here at Local Matters, and feel so fortunate to have landed here for my fellowship. The staff is kind, welcoming, and supportive, especially the development and communications team, Kerry and Amanda. They have helped me tremendously as I navigate trying new things and learning more about the organization and field in general. Thank you!
As the days are winding down not only on my fellowship but also my college athletic and academic career. It is bringing about a lot of emotion and a lot of work. Words cannot express how thankful I am to have gained this experience of completing my fellowship at Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus. I have learned so much, directly and indirectly, especially from my supervisor Hilary Blakemore. I have gotten to know and interact with some amazing people that do remarkable work for this organization. I have also really cherished this opportunity to learn more about the organization and strengthen my connection to it’s mission. Working for Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus is truly an incredible experience. It is a very application based work place, you are able to see everyday how your work is being applied and making an impact on kids lives. From the Youth Development Professionals working directly with the kids, to the Development team working in the admin office, everyone plays a very important role and is helping make a positive influence on the lives of kids in the community.
This fellowship provided me with experience and knowledge in the field of development which I hadn’t had prior. This fellowship has put me in a great position and increased my passion to pursue a post-grad position in the field of development which I would not have been able to do without the fellowship. More than that, this fellowship has also allowed me to make connections with different people in development that have really helped prepare me for what is next after the fellowship and graduation.
Even though my fellowship with Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus may be coming to an end, my involvement with the organization will not. Considering I will be staying in Columbus after graduation, I will be able to stay connected with the clubs as a volunteer.
Thank you to the Columbus Foundation for such an amazing program, and thank you to Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus for the experience and the memories!
During this last month of my Fellowship with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, I have been focusing on researching and evaluating our “Adopt-an-Animal” program, familiarizing myself with gift acceptance policies, developing a donor survey and gathering options for matching gift program databases.
The Zoo’s “Adopt-an-Animal” program allows donors to symbolically adopt their favorite animal by making a donation at various levels from $50.00 to $1,000.00. To evaluate the structure and strength of our Zoo’s program, I researched similar programs at 10 other Zoos around the country. In terms of number of giving levels offered and the value of adopt program benefits (i.e. Plush animal toy, event invitations, etc.), our Zoo was generally in the middle of the pack—moderate amount of giving levels and benefits offered. Currently, I am working with partners at our peer Zoo’s to gather data regarding the revenue generated from these programs at each giving level offered. I am excited to complete this project soon and be able to share my findings with Columbus Zoo staff as well as the partners I have worked with at other Zoo’s—hopefully the findings enable each Zoo to make positive changes to their programs!
I was also fortunate to learn about Zoo gift acceptance Policies this past month. Researching the policies in place at other Zoos has helped me to build an understanding of the importance in having procedures in place for conflicts of interest as well as valuation and crediting of gift amounts. These policies help provide guidance and enable development staff to protect their organization’s financial security.
With the guidance of my supervisors, I have begun to develop a donor survey for the Zoo. The three main focus areas in this survey will be regarding gift solicitation, gift stewardship and donor background. The Zoo has not gathered this kind of donor feedback in the recent past. I believe that a better understanding of our donor’s feelings towards the frequency and types of solicitations as well as the methods used to recognize and thank donors could help improve our fundraising performance.
Finally, earlier this month, I researched which matching fits database option made most sense for use by Zoo staff and donors. Learning about services such as Blackbaud’s MatchFinder and HEPdata will certainly prove to be valuable information as I continue to work with nonprofit organizations in my career.
With a little less than two weeks to go in the Fellowship program, I am grateful for all that I have learned from Zoo staff, especially Cheryl Lesko and Mayme Norman. I am looking forward to a strong last two weeks and to continuing as a member of the fundraising community in central Ohio.
The week leading up to the Gala was super busy and crazy trying to put all of the last minute details into place. We had several guests’ names change at the last minute and also received new guests at the last minute, so ensuring they had bidding paddles that matched the number that had been assigned to that seat was quite a task. We had to ensure they aligned so that when the guest checked in, the volunteers could find the right guest and also ensured they were in the bidding system correctly so that the correct people were being charged for the appropriate items.
Our office building is unable to be accessed on the weekends, so since our event was on a Saturday, we had to make sure we had all of the items we needed when we left the office at the end of the day on Friday. We had taken most of our big items over to the Columbus Museum of Art earlier in the day Friday, which helped us when we arrived at the venue on Saturday. Since the Columbus Museum of Art is open to the public until 5:00 on Saturdays, we were not allowed to begin setting up our items until 3:00. This meant that we had to ensure all of our items were organized and we were ready to go when volunteers arrived to help at 3:00. Our guests were scheduled to begin arriving at 6:30, so we had limited time to set up our event space. We had a timeline of events that needed to happen prior to the event, and with the help of our volunteers, we were able to stay ahead of schedule and the event space was ready to go when our guests arrived.
Participating in the event was an exciting experience and I enjoyed seeing our hard work come to fruition. This year’s Gala was the highest in terms of number of attendees with nearly 400 guests, as well as highest grossing with over $243,000 raised. This was an amazing event to be part of and I am happy to know I played a part in increasing the funds raised through this event and knowing those funds are going to the wonderful services Catholic Social Services offers to the community.
It’s hard to believe there is only one month left of the fellowship program! This past month at Local Matters has been filled with preparation to begin fully utilizing our new culinary classroom and office space. I have been doing a little bit of everything to prepare for an official launch and press release of our big move. The official event is at the end of April, so there is much to do between now and then. The remaining time I have left at Local Matters will be spent in preparation for this; creating displays to be put up around the space at the event and prepping materials for other events where we will be advertising our new classes and kitchen.
As a busy body and chronic multi-tasker myself, one thing I have loved about my time here is that my workplan does not end with what is listed above. While waiting for materials to be approved and finalized, I will continue to work on preparations for next year’s Harvest Ball by beginning to design and word the sponsorship packet, create an arsenal of social media posts based on National health-inspired days (ie National Eat Your Vegetables Day, Arbor Day, National Bike to Work Day, etc) and recipes and resources to be shared on social media regarding those topics, and attend various fundraising and development committee board meetings. They keep me busy!
After months of planning and preparation, the date of the gala is finally approaching. It seemed as though this day would never arrive but with all of preparation behind us, we are ready for the event. Over the past few weeks, I been helping to ensure that details for the event have been handled. My biggest responsibility has had to do with the silent auction items. With most of our items in our possession, I have been working on packaging them so that they are ready to be displayed on the day of the event.
Another aspect to our silent auction is our online bidding site. For our event, we are using Qtego Auction Services and all of the information for our auction items needs to be entered into the program prior to the event. We have a limited number of characters to describe our items in so we have to be cautious of the way they are described to ensure our guests know exactly what it is they are bidding on the night of the event. We also have to be sure to include any additional information about the package on the site so that guests know expiration dates and stipulations prior to purchasing the item. This is not an aspect I would have thought about prior to being involved in the preparation of the items for this particular event. I have also never been to or volunteered at an event where they used mobile bidding technology so I am excited to see how it works with our guests. It was interesting to be involved in the work going into ensuring the mobile site is ready to use. I feel as though mobile bidding is where silent auctions are headed so I was happy I was able to be involved in preparing our site. I am excited to see how our silent auction goes the night of the event.