Today is the last day for early packet pick up here at Equitas Health and the office is buzzing. Well the development and marketing departments are. Busy putting last minute details together. I will be going out later to collect the in-kind donations I secured for the project and get snacks and water for our volunteers and racers. To be honest I am very impressed with how little we have to do today. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to be done, but it just goes to show that if everything is paced out well there is less need to panic the day before. Come tomorrow morning at 7am when we are setting up…I might tell a different story.
It has been great to see the culmination of everyone’s hard work on this project. For me especially as I have seen my project go from just an idea to a fully funded/sponsored addition to this event. I could not have done it without Heather and everyone here, they offered so much advice and help. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings, what people think about the idea and to see what it can do long term. As this is the inaugural year it has been a lot of trouble-shooting. I am hoping to stick around Equitas Health for at least a couple more weeks post-walk to help transition and close out all the details of this event. Shortly after the walk we turn our attention to our next events and assisting our other cities (Dayton and Toledo) put on their walks each a week after the other.
Finishing up this fellowship I would like to reflect a bit on my whole time here. I have learned so much and it has reaffirmed my desire to get involved with this field. I owe everyone I have worked with a huge debt of gratitude for pushing me and allowing me to enter their workspace and try out new ideas.
Over the past month working at Mid-Ohio Foodbank, I’ve had several new and exciting learning opportunities, aside from my primary project. I am lucky enough to be supervised by the Foodbank’s grants manager. Through my coursework and field experience, I have learned about the importance of grants as a reliable and consistent funding source and therefore have always wanted to gain experience and exposure to grants. Grant writing and grant management are extremely valuable skills to obtain as an aspiring nonprofit professional, and I have practiced these skills by assisting with the preparation of grant proposals and grant reports. I have also learned about the commonalities and diversity among grant requests for proposal. These differences and similarities are oftentimes a manifestation of the grant type, whether it is a federal, state, or local government grant, a corporation grant, or a foundation grant. Mid-Ohio Foodbank has a variety of funding sources, and as a result there has been a great variation in my learning opportunities.
I have also recently been involved in Operation Feed, the Foodbank’s annual community-wide drive. Each year we join forces with over 100 local businesses, schools, civic groups, and individuals to raise critically needed resources. These local organizations hold internal fundraising events events, such as trivia contests, mini golf tournaments, lip sync battles and more to raise funds as an organization. These funds then come to Mid-Ohio Foodbank and provide millions of meals to our hungry neighbors. These events not only bring employees of these organizations together to achieve a common goal, but they do so in an engaging and fun way and create a large impact on the community. The drive runs from March until June.
With 3 weeks left of the Fellowship, I am starting to wrap everything up and finish my project. In my next post I will reflect on lessons learned and what I gained from this experience.
On Monday, February 27th, Children’s Hunger Alliance 22nd Annual Menu of Hope luncheon took place. This is the biggest annual fundraiser that Children’s Hunger Alliance organizes to gain the majority of funds needed to feed Ohio’s children, and assisting with its planning was my main purpose as a fellow. After months of learning exactly what the fundraising and development team does, it was amazing to see firsthand how all of their hard work paid off. Without this experience, I would not have learned what makes up the hours of hard work needed for obtaining support and donors, guest confirmations, script writing, table organization, etc. On Sunday night, I joined the team at the Hyatt to set up the event, and the significance of the event sunk in once I saw around 90 tables set up in a ballroom and the stage in place. I am grateful that I have learned about this field from a team of people that take their job very seriously. On the day of the event, I spent some time going around to each seat at each table to make sure that each place setting looked perfect, and that each guest would feel welcomed.
As someone who often thinks about things in a “big picture” way, this experience of being a fellow has really challenged me to look at the details. This was clear after seeing time and time again how one email to one person can make a huge difference in the success of the agency and the lives of the children they serve. When working with donors or guests prior, during, or even after the event, making sure each individual feels valued and that they have a positive experience can lead to enormous gains for an organization. While working on press releases or the new website, the focus is clearly on reaching the masses. Getting out the basic information about why Children’s Hunger Alliance is important and the great number of children they are able to feed to as many people as possible is essential. Other times, such as in personal conversation or events in the area, I have learned how important it is to be a steward of the work you are promoting. I underestimated the power of a specific story about one child and how their life has been directly impacted by the program, and how that story can touch one donor in a very powerful way.
At the event, John Quinones told the story of his own struggles growing up not always knowing where his next meal would come from. He talked about the resources and opportunities that got him to where he is today, recognizing that his situation and his success does not happen for most kids struggling with insecurity today. Mr. Quinones also talked about his show, “What Would You Do”, and I had a moment of personal reflection on how I can be more intentional about the things I do in my life. Working at Children’s Hunger Alliance has really helped me learn more about how huge of an issue that food insecurity and food access is for children in Ohio, and how damaging those limits can be on their development and life success. I have also learned how affordable it is to feed a child, and how I can contribute to that effort myself, and encourage those around me to follow. Even after my experience as a fellow ends, I will continue to think about CHA and how I can contribute to the efforts to feed Ohio’s children. The phrase, “If a hunger child asked you for food, what would you do?” is not going to get out of my head any time soon.
This month things are really starting to crank up for AIDS Walk Ohio here at Equitas Health. And I am sure I will say that again next month! Last week was the AIDS Walk Ohio Bar Crawl and it went fantastically! No major hiccups and everyone had a great time. There were a ton of walk-ups which means we made well over what we thought we were going to, which in the fundraising world is always fantastic. As we begin the push to really finalize details for AIDS Walk I am working on securing in-kind donations for our volunteers. Something that this department really focuses on, that I admire, is recognizing those that support us. Our volunteers, our sponsors, the bars that have helped out, all the vendors that will be assisting us the day of, all of our walkers and especially our Grand Walkers (those that raise over $1,000). We want to make sure they know how much we appreciate their help by giving them special shout-outs. I think this is both strategic and coming from a place of sincere gratitude. Without these people, Equitas Health and this Walk could not happen.
Something else I would like to discuss during this month’s blog post is AFP. I am currently the Secretary for the Association of Fundraising Professional’s collegiate chapter at The Ohio State University. I wanted to take the time to plug this group because 1. Anyone who is reading this blog is more than likely interested in fundraising and 2. I believe this club is so beneficial to all who are interested in pursuing any career in a nonprofit. This past semester we have had a career panel and a professional writing workshop with more professional mixers to come. I believe this club, for those attending Ohio State, is incredibly helpful. There are other collegiate chapters around, most close in proximity being Otterbein’s chapter, and there is a very active NextGen group who are young professionals in the field. We constantly get invited to AFP events and luncheons all at a reduced cost and most often for free. The subjects range from resume building, how to perfect the ask, how to negotiate a salary dialogue, and other professional development topics. If you have any interest or want to hear more please feel free to reach out to me or email email@example.com.
Something interesting about working on a smaller team is that a lot of cross collaboration happens. Every one on the development team has a specific role, whether that is gift processing, annual giving or capital campaigns, however, each team member knows the other projects and often helps coworkers.
I have worked with other corporation in the past, and due to scale, people focus a lot more on their individual tasks and not so much cross-collaboration occurs. There are many benefits to this phenomenon such as a higher sense of purpose since each worker touches and understands every aspect of the operation, as well as higher overall productivity by preventing boredom from repetitive tasks.
Personally, I have benefited from this by having the opportunity to learn new skill and be exposed to many areas within the organization.
My main task when I started was to work with the capital campaign team to plan the silent phase of the Dublin campaign. Throughout my time at CML, I have also helped with building additional lists, analyzing data from previous events, and using queries to find relevant information.
I am excited to keep learning and hopefully to keep helping CML as well.
At the Foodbank I have been making a lot of steady progress on my project of creating Development Marketing pieces. These pieces focus on several different vulnerable populations and how the issue of food insecurity affects that population, as well as how the work of the food distribution network supported by Mid-Ohio Foodbank aims to address this issue and provide individuals with the fresh, healthy food they need.
In addition to the work at our organizations, we fellows also have access to networking opportunities through the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). I recently attended one of the monthly educational events that AFP puts on. This month’s theme was Metrics and Major Gifts and featured a presentation and discussion facilitated by a fundraising professional. Honestly it was a bit intimidating being the youngest and least experienced person in the room, but I was lucky to have another fellow with me, and a couple of my colleagues from the Foodbank saved us a spot at their table. It was a great experience just observing the presentation and learning from the other fundraising professionals’ insights. I also met some individuals from other organizations that were eager to share their knowledge and experience with me, and I was surprised to hear about the diversity of career opportunities available in Fundraising. Although there were a few topics of conversation and ideas that I did not completely comprehend (again, due to my lack of experience in fundraising), I was grateful for the Fellowship for giving me the opportunity to attend and get exposure to new ideas. I walked away excited at the thought of pursuing a career in Fundraising and Development. I hope to attend future events!
Until next time,
Well this month is full of problem solving and working with our top fundraisers to make sure they are happy. Programs and planning are driving at full force and we are working on sending out our tear pads to bars as another way to raise incremental dollars.
In the process of making these tear pads I re-learned that hand-eye coordination is vital in all tasks. I lost a good chunk of my fingernail to the paper cutter and I was a bit of mess while my lovely co-worker helped me out. (Have I mentioned how amazing the people are here?) Anyway we are moving forward and I attempting to contribute to this project in other ways that do not involved very sharp blades.
This week I am focusing on registering teams and working on behind the scenes tasks. One of my favorite aspects of working the development field is the traveling. While I am by no means doing week-long excursions, even just traveling to different work places, meetings across town and bars to work with donors has been stimulating and keeps the days feeling new and exciting! There is always something new happening and a new problem to conquer.