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June 2019 Issue

From the Executive Director:
The Flood Waters Have Receded. We Need to Advance.


MOEC Updates Vision, Creates Stronger Impact on Student Success


Fundraising Course Connects and Inspires Nonprofit Leaders


Uniting Communities Through Neighborhood Revitalization

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Fundraising Course Connects and Inspires Nonprofit Leaders

Raising the Bar | Thriving Places | June 2019

Nonprofit leaders from across Nebraska and western Iowa come together in Omaha for Peter Kiewit Foundation’s offering of The Fund Raising School’s Principles & Techniques of Fundraising.

Important to every leader’s success is the opportunity to learn and continue to develop professionally. In October 2018, the foundation hosted The Fund Raising School’s Principles & Techniques of Fundraising, a four-day course offered through Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The course gave nonprofit development professionals a chance to address their current fundraising needs and prepare for their organizations’ futures using time-honored theory and practices. But more than new skills, the opportunity to attend The Fund Raising School gave nonprofit leaders an opportunity to connect, find inspiration, and set course with a bigger picture for the future.

Karla Williams, an independent organizational development consultant, has been leading The Fund Raising School courses across the United States for twenty years. “The Fund Raising School is the premier teaching experience in the country in the subject of fundraising in the nonprofit realm,” she says. “What we do is open people’s perspective to the entire nature of the field [of fundraising].”

The four-day course takes participants through essential fundraising topics, helping participants learn how to:

  • • Identify and validate prospective donors
  • • Manage the fundraising process
  • • Use research to match a donor’s interests & needs with a nonprofit ‘s mission and goals
  • • Build an annual fund donor base that keeps on giving
  • • Manage the process of raising money
  • • Recognize planned giving benefits to donors and to nonprofits
  • • Structure a successful solicitation and
  • • Respond to challenges and ethical dilemmas with professional skill.

Williams has taught the course in Omaha several times over the past twenty years and is passionate about this opportunity to train nonprofit development professionals at the highest level.

Fundraising requires specific skills and doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Morgan Kazanjian, development director at Rabble Mill, was in her position for a little over a year when she had the chance to attend The Fund Raising School. “This is my first position in a nonprofit and fundraising was a whole new world to me,” says Kazanjian. “I had different bits of information but I was struggling to see the big picture.”

Another participant, Kyren Conley, is the executive director of the Carnegie Arts Center in Alliance, Nebraska. As the leader of a small staff she has her hands in every aspect of the organization. “Fundraising and how we are going to sustain our organization is always on my mind,” says Conley.

The intent of the multi-day course is for participants to leave with a more purposeful idea about what they can do to promote their organization’s mission.

“This is not about raising money,” says Williams. “This is about raising mission.”

Williams herself is energized by the topic and potential of philanthropic fundraising. “Every single class is different,” she says. “It’s the same contextually but the world changes around us.” She believes when development professionals are given the chance to explore the “why” of fundraising it becomes deeply personal and specific to the organization which is ultimately beneficial to the community at large.

As someone new to the development field, Kazanjian found the experience transformative. She left with a sense of a bigger and deeper picture. “My organization has so much room to grow and I left with ideas and a plan in place to make that happen,” she says.

“I felt so fortunate to attend,” says Conley. “It was nice to know someone recognized that you’re putting your heart and soul into this.”

Looking toward the future of fundraising, Williams feels nonprofits have a responsibility to teach philanthropy. As the world changes, the reasons and methods that propel philanthropic donations change as well. “If we don’t adjust accordingly nonprofits will limit their options,” she says, “and exclude people from the opportunity to give.”

Click here to receive updates about the upcoming offering of The Fund Raising School (October 1-4, 2019).