Meet Quinn Kendra, a Senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in Public and Nonprofit Administration, with an emphasis in Community Development and Planning. Quinn interned with Kennari this fall and is anticipating graduation in the spring.
7 Things I Learned in Four Months of Fundraising Work
As a senior in college, I thought fundraising was simply raising money for a cause or organization. After my four months as an intern at Kennari Consulting, I have realized that it is much more than that. Here are seven lessons that I learned working with Kennari Consulting:
1. Fundraising is not all about grants. It seemed that, from my previous experience, grants were one of the only ways for nonprofits to raise substantial amounts of money. The truth is, that could not be further from the reality of the world of fundraising. Nonprofits use several different methods in order to fundraise, and if they were just going after grants, organizations would be missing out on countless other opportunities.
2. Always have a plan. There is nothing worse than starting a project without knowing where it’s heading. The same goes for fundraising. What does the organization need? How much money will it cost? Where will the money come from? These questions should be answered before anything is done. If you don’t have a plan, create one.
3. Relationships matter. Working in fundraising means consistently running into people that you have likely worked with before, so always be aware of that. Be kind and understanding of the people you work with, both directly and indirectly, because it matters (and you’re going to see them again in a few weeks). Always being mindful that every person you encounter is important.
4. Focus on the individual. When jumping into the world of fundraising, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of prospective donors. Every person seems like they could be a major donor, but that often is not the case. By dedicating ample time and energy to specific prospective donors, the results will turn out to be much more in your favor.
5. Inclination matters. People are usually only going to donate if the organization has directly affected them or they are otherwise passionate about the cause. Through my experience shadowing meetings with the Kennari staff, I learned a valuable lesson about fundraising: Don’t ask for donations unless the prospective donor has a personal connection with the organization’s mission (or you can find a path that connects them to the mission). No matter how well a nonprofit delivers their mission, major donors aren’t going to support everything.
6. The holiday season is about more than just giving gifts from a store. Interning at Kennari during the fall semester taught me that the holiday season is an essential time for nonprofits to fundraise through the giving efforts of the holidays. Nonprofits must be prepared to use the holiday season to their advantage! Encourage your friends and family to give back this holiday season by supporting an organization that means something to them.
7. Organization is arguably more important than anything else. Keeping organized saves time and energy that could be used elsewhere. Always plan ahead and have a mental snapshot of what your day, week, and month are going to look like. Use sticky notes, set yourself reminders, and create folders for everything. Also, your calendar is your best friend.
Interning at Kennari has been one of my most memorable college experiences, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to learn from such an incredible staff. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can help make an impact in the community after graduation!
Quinn was an absolute joy in the Kennari Consulting office! We appreciated his upbeat attitude and willingness to tackle any project thrown his way. We wish him the best as he finishes up school next semester and begins his career!
To learn more about Kennari Consulting’s internship program, please email Kim Kvorka at firstname.lastname@example.org.