Meet Jared Schmatz! Jared is a Junior at Cornerstone University and is studying Business Management. He is looking forward to applying what he learned at Kennari to other student organizations he is involved with at Cornerstone.

5 Lessons I Learned From My Summer Internship at Kennari Consulting

Before starting my internship at Kennari Consulting, I didn’t have a lot of experience with fundraising. However, after my summer of working in the world of philanthropy, I have gained valuable knowledge and insight in this space. Here are 5 lessons I learned from working at Kennari Consulting:

1. Building relationships is vital. The most important lesson I learned from my internship is that fundraising cannot be done effectively without relationship building. In many of the meetings I shadowed, our consultants would go through prospect lists with our clients. They would help our clients create plans for cultivating the donors through various activities such as a building tour, lunch with a board member, or a house party. Our consultants helped our clients think about the relationships between board members, staff members, and donors, in order to create unique cultivation plans for each donor prospect. This is the most important lesson because it has challenged me to improve my relationship building skills. During this school year, I plan to focus much more on networking and building relationships with my fellow Cornerstone students and members of the nonprofit industry in West Michigan.

2. Data and research matter. Before starting my internship, I had no idea how important data and research were to fundraising. During the summer, I had two projects that focused heavily on data and research. I assisted our consultants by conducting donor research and preparing reports for our staff members. This information would help our clients and consultants make decisions about cultivation activities and potential gift capacity. Additionally, I prepared a summary of the Giving USA 2019 report, which is published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. This report is trusted by nonprofit professionals across the country because it helps them make fundraising decisions. Overall, working with data this summer has been a great experience and I know it will serve me well in the future.

3. Fundraising is complex. I never realized how complex fundraising could be until I learned about this process at Kennari Consulting. For example, the campaign process includes work with pre-feasibility processes, feasibility studies, campaign implementation, and campaign completion. Another example is with grants and foundations – when you apply for a grant, many foundations want to see that your program has taken steps to develop a strong program model for developing goals and tracking data. Overall, this internship has given me a peek into the complex world of philanthropy.

4. Always have a plan. Another lesson that I learned is that having a plan for every step of fundraising is a tremendous asset. Whether it is applying for grants, launching a campaign, or planning an event, having a plan for your fundraising activities can help you stay organized and on task.

5. The nonprofit industry in West Michigan is growing. Lastly, this experience has shown me just how large the nonprofit industry is in West Michigan. I have been able to sit in on countless meetings with our clients and make connections with nonprofit leaders in our community. I have met with employees at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Cherry Health, ArtPrize, and many more. Overall, this experience has given me a passion to continue working in West Michigan because the philanthropy industry is strong and growing.

The Kennari Consulting internship experience has given me a ton of insight into this industry and has helped to prepare me for some projects I am working on currently. I am the president of a student organization at Cornerstone University called Enactus. We are a social entrepreneurship organization and I am currently working on a fundraising plan for this organization. I am using the principles that I learned from Kennari to help me lead this organization better. I am also in the process of starting a project in Guatemala that will focus on special needs education. I will most likely be leading a campaign to raise around $750,000 to build this school and I am looking forward to using my experience with Kennari to help me with this project.

I am incredibly thankful to Kennari Consulting for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow in this industry. I am also thankful to the entire staff for being so welcoming and friendly throughout the entire summer. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this internship and make a meaningful impact on my community; I know I picked the right organization to intern with this summer.

Jared was an outstanding addition to our office this semester! His eager attitude, sense of humor, and work ethic were appreciated every day. We are excited to see what Jared accomplishes at Cornerstone and beyond!

To learn more about Kennari Consulting’s internship program, please email Kim Kvorka at