Tag Archive for training in nonprofits

One World Children’s Fund Fellows Presentations

Bottom Line:  Innovative non-profits, like OWCF, seek to try new things, empower people and get out of the way to let them get things done.  OWCF’s inaugural group of “fellows” was an effective way for the organization to jump start some important projects, while providing valuable training to a new generation interested in learning the ropes in the non-profit world.

[And, we’re back…  The lack of posts over the last 3 weeks was a result of my moving.  It’s remarkable how much time and energy it takes to find a new place to live, pack up, get boxes from one place to another, and unpack them.  I’m not done yet, but far enough along that I can get back to blogging….]

I currently serve on the board of the Palo Alto Congregational Foundation, a small grant-making foundation that supports projects and organizations in the Palo Alto, CA area.  We typically make 5 – 8 grants per year, totaling about $20,000.   We do accept unsolicited proposals, though we give preference to those organizations that have a tie to First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, either through financial support from the Outreach Board or church members who serve as volunteers or employees.  We do not support operating expenses, preferring to provide either seed funding for new programs or capital expenses.  Contact me for more information about the application process.

One of our recent grants was to One World Children’s Fund to start a summer fellowship program.  Yesterday, the three fellows presented what they had done in their part-time, three-month, unpaid fellowships.  I have to admit that I was late, and missed the first 45 minutes of the presentations, but from what I did see, the fellows tackled some of the marketing challenges that OWCF faces, specifically:

  1. Creating an “Elevator Pitch” with talking points to describe the OWCF model:  “One World Children’s Fund is a non-profit that supports community-based organizations serving children around the world.  We are unique because volunteers approach us with organizations they wish to raise funds for.  Once selected, these volunteers are provided tools and training for fundraising.  100% of the money they raise goes directly towards supporting children.  Fundraising isn’t the only way to get involved with One World.  People come to us from all walks of life to make a difference in the lives of children, and so can you!”
  2. Improving Donor Stewardship.  It sounded like the main initiative there was publishing donor stories, which is a start.
  3. Using online video to tell the story.  One of the fellows created a storyboard for a 2 minute animated short that describes OWCF’s champion model.  She also found an animation studio who agreed to produce it pro bono.
  4. Making sure web content is available to a global audience.  Another fellow set up a process to create a volunteer community of translators who could ensure that the content of OWCF’s is available in other languages.
Several members of OWCF’s board were in the audience, and they seemed to also appreciate the contributions of the fellows.  I had a chance to speak with the fellows afterward, and was impressed.  These women had strong academic and work backgrounds, but needed the practical non-profit experience to make the desired transition into non-profit management as a career.  They were happy with the autonomy and responsibility that OWCF had given them, and OWCF had also lined up a series of weekly speakers talking about their areas of non-profit specialty.  In a testament to the value of the program, one of the fellows learned about the fellowship from idealist.org and applied from Hong Kong, enduring a three-month separation from her newly-wedded husband to participate in the fellowship.
In summary, I was impressed that OWCF put together a quality fellowship program (run entirely by volunteers) and believe that it had the desired win-win outcome of providing value to both OWCF and the fellows.  I hope that the longer term benefits of improved messaging, donor stewardship, and website reach will result in more projects helping more children under the OWCF umbrella.