Archive for June, 2011
In 2007, seventeen interns travelled to Petoskey, Michigan. The purpose of the trip was to meet and converse with donors. The result was the formation of a meaningful and impactful relationship between D-SIP and the Fisher family.
Doug Stewart, the executive director of the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, was a member of the Curriculum Advisory Board for D-SIP. Because of his passion and commitment to the education of future fundraisers, he stopped in during the first retreat to speak to the interns. He also brought along and introduced D-SIP to Julie Fisher-Cummings.
Since then, D-SIP interns have had the privilege to hear about the passions of Julie and her husband Peter, who was introduced to D-SIP in year three. Through their stories, interns see their class readings come to life and make connections that cannot be taught.
But, Julie, Peter and Doug have shared much more than their personal stories. The Fisher Foundation’s care and belief in the next generation is clear through their generous offer to host an intern at the Fisher Foundation every summer. With this being D-SIP’s 5th year, the foundation has hosted four D-SIP graduates that hope to continue into the field of development. Their current intern is Amerique Philyaw, who will be blogging about her experience at the foundation throughout the summer.
This partnership plays a significant role in the program. The retreat has served as the greatest time of reflection when interns not only recognize the power of donors and their gifts in transforming the world, but also see the responsibility they have to impact future generations. Every intern leaves inspired.
Our fifth year continues this partnership as our 24 interns will attend a retreat in Detroit where they will learn about the Fisher Foundation and the organizations they support, such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a group of early childhood development partners in the Brightmoor neighborhood, once again highlighting the positive impact philanthropy can have in our society.
Several years ago I had a discussion with some university colleagues about the growing impact that philanthropy was having on colleges and universities. The signs were all around us as beautiful buildings went up, exciting new programs were announced and the influence of major gifts became increasingly more important. It seemed that the trend toward greater giving to higher education, while it raised some questions, was overwhelmingly a “good thing” and would only accelerate.
Still, we were struck by a couple of things:
- A whole new field of work was emerging in higher education: It was very exciting and dynamic. The influence of new donors, interesting new technologies and the rapid sophistication of fund raising practices was creating many new roles for practitioners. A different conversation was taking shape at the intersection of giving and receiving.
- Preparation for service in the field was still uneven. There was very little consensus on what it took to be a successful fund raiser and the capacities needed to effectively give money away were even less obvious.
- The profession, as it was starting to earn that distinction, didn’t yet represent the diversity of backgrounds and experiences—nor the breadth of disciplinary knowledge—that characterized the campus. The next generation of individuals entering the field would be different in many ways than those that created it.
It was this last point that especially struck home. With university advancement officers sitting on executive teams and spending more time with college presidents than ever before, it was clear that fund raising and development were fast becoming intergral components of university leadership. At an institution like the University of Michigan, the strategic plan of every school and college was grounded in a plan for donor support. Faculty recruitment, student scholarships, program development and even a new roof depended on effective interplay between donors, deans and development officers. We were sure that individuals who would fill these roles needed to know a great deal more about college and universities as organizations including their traditions, values, decision patterns and challenges.
Working with colleagues from the Office of University Development and guided by previous graduates from our program in higher education administration, we have tried to build an integrated response to the observations we shared a few years ago. Undergraduate students are introduced to the field of development through our award winning Development Summer Internship Program, now in its fifth year. Through the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) we now offer a special concentration in our master’s program focused on philanthropy, advancement and development in higher education. Both of these programs have demanding internship requirements and strong mentoring activities….and have attracted strong interest from applicants.
Some of our recent graduates are already making an impact in the field. Catherine Roosevelt and Elena Chesney are employed in fund raising roles at the UM School of Medicine where they did their initial internships. Joe Serwack recently was appointed to a senior communications post in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Ayana Richardson works with the Baldwin County College Access Network helping to match students with scholarships for college. We also have recent CSHPE graduates who have taken positions in major foundations or as development officers in schools around the country.
We think it is important that the graduates of our programs are finding opportunities on “both sides” of the philanthropic relationship. This reflects our belief that the field is essentially a discourse between people who are trying to use resources in different ways to solve common problems, strengthen institutions and to improve society. Even more important than the money that is exchanged is the flow of great ideas. We want to instill a sophisticated sense of optimism that many things are possible whenever the will to bring change to the world is matched by the means to make it happen.
One of the reasons our program stands out as a national best practice is because of our strong partnership with the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) — the Career Center played a critical role in shaping our professional development curriculum; Intergroup Relations fostered dialogue amongst our interns on the interplay between interculturalism and philanthropy; and DSA Development has hosted and mentored 5 D-SIP interns. For this newsletter, we want to particularly focus on how our partnership with the MPortfolio initiative, through DSA, has transformed our interns’ learning.
In year two of the program, Simone Himbeault Taylor, associate vice president for student affairs, suggested that D-SIP become one of the pilot sites for the integrative knowledge portfolio process (MPortfolio). As a result, Melissa Peet, the academic lead for the MPortfolio Initiative at the time, and her team worked with us to create the processes to help successfully incorporate this initiative into our program.
Through MPortfolio D-SIP interns engage in self-directed reflection of their past and present experiences and then draw connections between these experiences and their overarching philosophy, vision, and goals for the future. They then post these reflections in an electronic portfolio. By the end of the summer our interns:
- gain an increased awareness of themselves as learners, leaders, and professionals
- create examples of work and a philosophy statement that exhibit their skills, capacities, and lessons learned through D-SIP.
According to Joseph Sutkowi (D-SIP 2010), “MPortfolio was valuable because it required me to take my thoughts on the work I had done and the lessons I learned in D-SIP and put them into very concrete pieces. Having already put these thoughts into words, I was able to articulate my thoughts much more clearly to employers.”
The integration of the M-Portfolio dramatically changed the way our interns speak about their experience in our program and their understanding of the role philanthropy
will play in their lives as engaged citizens and future leaders. We want to ensure that our interns leave the program having learned about: the profession, the impact of philanthropy in education and in our global society, and most importantly, themselves as young professionals and future leaders. MPortfolio is essential in making certain this transfer of knowledge and type of reflection occurs. The process of creating an M-Portfolio encourages our students to engage in life-long and life-wide learning.
D-SIP Program Director
Corporate Social Responsibility were words that basically meant nothing to me prior to D-SIP. But through my internship I’ve seen words that I used to shrug at like “matching gift” and “corporate volunteer initiatives” actually feed the hungry and house the homeless. Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer just an empty claim to use less paper but a shift in the way companies function. With savvier consumers and stricter federal laws (and lets not forget last summers’ manmade natural disasters), companies have begun to reexamine what it means to function not as a “company” but as a citizen in the modern world. Having recycling programs in place is now becoming a norm, corporate sponsored fundraisers and grants are spreading like wildfire. Firms like Pepsi and American Express have found ways to let the Social Media storm help build both their brand image and provide much needed funds to non-profits across the nation with initiatives like the Pepsi Refresh Grant and American Express Members Give. Working in Ozone House showed me how much non-profits depend on the kindness of corporations, and although I am currently working in the for profit sector, it is a lesson that I still hold close. Corporate social responsibility was something that I researched before even applying to a company. If I was spending my whole summer at a company, and potentially a large portion of my adult life, it better share some of the values that I do and it better have matching gift. This summer is half way over and the upcoming interviewing season is looming not far ahead. And it is a time that most people ask themselves, “Am I good enough for this company?” but don’t forget to ask yourself, “Is this company good enough for me?”