Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan has been an integral component of my undergraduate career. This organization is the state of Michigan’s largest student-run non-profit. It is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for pediatric rehabilitation programs at C.S. Mott and Beaumont’s Children’s Hospital. Throughout the year, students are dedicated to creating bonds with the families we aim to impact, raise funds in an energetic and creative manner, as well as plan events to enhance these initiatives. At the end of the year, the student’s efforts culminate in a thirty-hour event, where all members stand in honor of the cause.
I have been involved in Dance Marathon for four years, each year with varying levels of involvement. As I applied for the Development Summer Internship Program I anticipated it would impact me greatly, but I could have never imagined the many ways it would influence my involvement in Dance Marathon. This impact began with personal practices and relationships, but expanded further to organization wide practices.
I was able to take lessons and assignments from D-SIP and directly implement into my committee. For example, during the summer we discussed the importance of Strengths Based work, and I wanted to make sure to follow this principle with those that I work with throughout the year. Thus in one of our initial meetings we completed the VIA Strengths Test, allowing us to work cohesively as a team. Moreover, we have been able to more effectively assign tasks by understanding where our team member’s strengths are. In the middle of the summer we did a quick exercise to show our appreciation for our D-SIP cohort, and by seeing the success of this I have also established a practice of sharing appreciations at the end of each meeting. Throughout the summer I was able to take activities we completed for D-SIP and adopt them to create a more cohesive, well-working team to benefit Dance Marathon.
The growth for Dance Marathon did not stop with the impact on my specific committee, but also larger practices to follow as an organization. First, through my project of compiling a comprehensive benchmarking study for Michigan Telefund I was able to learn the process for effective benchmarking, as well as the importance of documenting the best practices found within an organization. Secondly, I was able to expand the establishment of gratitude practices from my committee to the organization as a whole. I understood that donors often like to be stewarded in different ways, and we as an organization had been lacking on showing our appreciation to all donors. For example, we had not released an impact report in a few years, and thus people did not fully understand what their money was going to. In addition, potential donors have different types of motivations, so by sharing these types and surveying our current donors we can more effectively plan our fundraising pushes.
Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan has also never before been successful in applying for grants, so I have been able to share the information learned in the classroom to hopefully improve this. Lastly, one of the lessons of D-SIP that resonated the most with me is finding one’s passion, and finding new ways to engage with it. We heard this from the leaders of D-SIP, from our guest speakers, and it was incorporated in many of the readings we had. This simple idea reminded me as a leader I must work to link passions for members of the organization as well as donors to our organization.
The Development Summer Internship Program impacted me in so many ways, but I was even more grateful for its contributions to an organization I love. I had the privilege of directly applying each discussion, activity, and lesson to my experience throughout the school year. D-SIP has the power to affect every facet of an intern’s life if they allow it to, and I am excited to see where D-SIP’s information and inspiration will reach.
Application tip: Make sure to highlight what you are passionate about. This will set your application apart from others and will truly let your voice come out.
Monica Philipp (D-SIP ’13)
The first time I heard about budget cuts in the arts, I was shocked. I was also saddened because I realized that the youth of today would not have exposure to the same life-changing experiences that I had the fortune of being exposed to in music classes growing up.
Without funding for the arts, I never would have stayed so involved in the arts. Because of my active involvement in the arts, I continued to play through college with the Michigan Marching Band. The MMB provided me with an incredible experience in leadership and commitment to an organization. I was immersed in a culture of Michigan passion. This passion ignited a fire of Michigan love in my life. I began to explore the behind-the-scenes action that took place at the University. Being on scholarship, I was now able to participate in some of the vast experiences Michigan offered. Picking which experiences I wanted to pursue was overwhelming. One experience I did want to try was the Development Summer Internship Program (D-SIP), and after being accepted, my life changed for the better. I learned what self-discipline meant, how important emotional intelligence is, and how a career in development means a career in improving yourself and the people around you. Without the D-SIP experience, I would not be where I am today.
Through determination and hard work, I found I was passionate about giving back. My passion for giving back will eventually help another young student unveil their passion for years to come, as I am now currently working as a fundraiser for the band.
Application Tip: Make your resume stand out: make it genuine, only you are you! The program is not looking for one specific applicant – all of the projects and workplace environments will be different.
Michael Sullivant, (D-SIP ’13)
I chose to apply to D-SIP last year because I wanted to grow my skills as a fundraiser. As a member of the University of Michigan Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, I had previous experience with small-scale fundraising – bucketing, letter writing, and small grants – but wanted to learn how to leverage my time and resources to create a bigger impact on the organization. D-SIP taught me just that, and so much more.
Before summer 2013, I knew very little about Development. I knew the “big names” on campus buildings – C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Shapiro undergraduate library – were the result of philanthropic gifts but this meant little to me. I just assumed these people gave a lot of money, and didn’t realize these buildings came about as a result of years of hard work (surprise!). After working in Development for the summer, I realized philanthropic gifts are a reflection of the donors who give them, and every gift, large or small, has a story behind it. These stories are what make philanthropy special and the U of M Development staff is lucky enough to be a part of them each and every day.
Prior to this internship, I rarely thought about those who donated to ASB. What are their stories and reasons for giving? How can we adequately thank them for the experiences they have helped create? D-SIP taught me to think about ASB in a comprehensive manner, and to be thankful for those who have helped create a lifetime of memories through their giving.
Application tip: Triple check your whole application for small mistakes (for example, spelling or grammar)! They’re so pesky and can make a huge difference in your application.
Kim Cui (D-SIP ’13)
Congratulations are in order for D-SIP’s two newest doctors—Molly Dobson and Shelley Strickland. In December, Molly was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at winter commencement. Her gifts of time, talent and money have shaped D-SIP into what it is today. Besides being the founding donor, Molly always volunteers to be a guest speaker in the Friday class to share her journey and thoughts on philanthropy with the summer interns. A specific gift of Molly’s allows D-SIP to place four of its interns into Ann Arbor community nonprofits. Molly has always been a wonderful supporter of the program and is well deserving of her honorary degree.
It is no joke that Dr. Shelley Strickland defended for her Ph.D on April 1, 2013. It is also not a joke that more than 20 D-SIPers were in the audience. Shelley came to Ann Arbor to pursue her Ph.D in higher education and to develop the curriculum for the D-SIP program. D-SIP has been benchmarked by at least 7 other institutions of higher education, and has been nationally recognized by the Council for Advancement and Secondary Education (CASE). Such success would not have been possible without the unique educational curriculum created by Shelley. While there were many D-SIP alumni at Shelley’s dissertation, there were hundreds of others supporting her throughout the country. Alumni demonstrated their support by donating to D-SIP in honor of Shelley. Their gifts will provide more funding for Shelley’s educational class and curriculum. We will keep you posted with how the money is used!
Congratulations to Molly and Shelley. D-SIP is lucky to have such incredible individuals involved in the program, and D-SIP certainly would not be what it is today had they not been involved.
Every year in August we honor alumni at our Closing Ceremony with two annual awards: the Chrissi Rawak Award of Distinction in Development and the Block M of Honor for Community Impact. The first award is named after Chrissi Rawak, one of the visionaries behind the creation of D-SIP, and recognizes an alum of D-SIP that excels in the nonprofit sector. The Block M of Honor for Community Impact is awarded to an alum who does not work in the development field, but who has applied their D-SIP fundraising skills and knowledge to better their community.
This past year, four alumni were awarded. Kellen Sarb, D-SIP ’07, and Sophia Luong, D-SIP ’07, were awarded the Chrissi Rawak Award for Distinction in Development. Kellen was a fundraiser at the University of Boston for five years and recently just accepted a position at MIT’s Sloan Business School in fundraising. Sophia has committed herself to working in development at the University of Michigan, first working for the Ross School of Business and now currently fundraising on behalf of the Law School. Both were recognized their commitment and excellence in the field which has led to multiple promotions for both.
The Block M of Honor for Community Impact was awarded to Alana Font, D-SIP ’11, and Rita Razalan, D-SIP ’11. As a senior, Alana transferred her D-SIP skills by taking a lead in fundraising for the Ross School of Business Class Gift Committee. Rita, as a senior, applied her skills and took a lead in fundraising at St. Mary’s Student Parish. It is always rewarding to see D-SIP alumni impact the community, but as student philanthropy is a value held by U-M development, it is especially exciting that Rita and Alana fearlessly took on fundraising with their peers and the greater student body.
D-SIP granted these awards in pairs this year due to the unique friendships held by the winners. Their friendships grew in D-SIP and remain strong today. Through keeping in touch and sharing best practices, both pairs were able to maximize their efforts and push forward excellent fundraising practices that created tremendous impact for the receiving nonprofits. Congratulations Kellen, Sophia, Alana, and Rita!