This morning I had the privilege of speaking to a group of interns from Fleeting Farming on grant writing and fundraising. These interns who are in their junior or senior year at the University of Central Florida are so eager to learn how to raise funds to support this organization they are so passionate about. The interns have had some successes but seem to be struggling to find new revenue sources. We discussed how to research and build relationships with funding sources. I critiqued some letters of interest to local and national organizations. My suggested including adding bulleted points, bolded highlights to main points and adding mini stories or quotes of impact. Funders and individuals want to know how their funding will make impact. Adding stories or quotes brings that impact down to a level of one person, or otherwise one quantifiable outcome.
Fleet Farming is an urban agriculture program of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit IDEAS For Us that is transforming underutilized land into productive micro-farms to impact local food systems. The produce grown is sharecropped with their “farmlette host” with the excess sold at local SNAP-certified farmers markets. This program is supported by community members who are thinking globally and acting locally by learning and engaging in urban agriculture. Too often urban areas are food deserts with no opportunity to obtain fresh produce. Fleet Farming is changing that … one square foot at a time.
Overall, a great morning with time well spent. I really enjoy mentor young people.
I was recently asked by my mentee, where should she be networking?
I’m a joiner. I enjoy getting involved with organizations to meet new people and, yes, to network. My advice is to be strategic in which organizations you become actively involved. Most of us have limited time, so focus your activities.
- Join one organization that is specifically tied to your industry. For me this organization is the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Other examples in the nonprofit sector would include Grant Professionals Network, Young Nonprofit Professionals, or Charitable Gift etc. Not only will you gain valuable educational experiences but exposure to like-minded individuals. Leadership roles in these kind of organizations means that you are serious about your career. Others in this group maybe on the lower level tier in their organizations today, but will be the executive leaders tomorrow.
- Join one organization that has the potential for a wide range of connections in your community. Good examples of this would be the local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, or Kiwanis or League of Women Voters. Many organization such as these offer discounts to members on everything from office supplies to continuing education. Chamber’s often have leads groups which can put you in direct contact with other professionals in the area for networking purposes.
- Join an organization whose mission focuses on a cause you are passionate about. For me that cause has historically revolved around my children’s extracurricular activities, but for you, it might be your church group or the local LGBT activists.
Use the “date before you mate” concept, meaning you should visit an organization several times before making a commitment to join. Make sure the group values are in alignment with your own. When you do join, volunteer for some task. This can be anything from serving on a committee to picking up bagels. Taking on a leadership role doesn’t necessarily mean you need to volunteer to be on the executive board straight off. Lead with purpose.
I have found you get what you put into a networking situation. Follow up with those business cards, invite them to join your LinkedIn network, and invite them to coffee. Build a relationship. It takes a lot of time to network, but it pays off in big ways when the community knows and likes you! People like to do business with people they like and trust.
Networking is more than just showing up at an event. Networking is an exchange of information or services to develop mutually beneficial relationships. Your aim should be on building relationships, not just gathering business cards. Get to know people. Networking should be based on the question “How can I help?” and not with “What can I get?”.
In conclusion, be strategic in where you spend your precious time and built relationship in your network.
I got to spend Saturday mentoring young Girl Scouts at the “Not Your Mother’s Career Fair” hosted by the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council along with my sister Athenian, Woody Walker.
These young ladies are amazing. While Woody and I shared Athena’s 8 Principles of Leadership and how we apply them to our lives, they shared how they can apply them to their lives. These young ladies are facing real adult problems of bullying, drugs use on their school buses, transgender classmates, teenage pregnancy and HIV.
One young lady shared that her gold badge project focused on raising awareness of human trafficking. She has designed a website that raises money to provide “go kits” for those escaping from their captives. She already has $10,000 committed! As a fundraiser, I was impressed. You go girls!
Athena identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: Authentic Self, Relationships, Giving Back, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Learning, Fierce Advocacy, and Celebration. These personal traits that are more intuitive to women, and combined with the strongest aspects of traditional leadership – taking risks, assertiveness, hard work – prepare women to be successful leaders in the 21st century.
girlpower #becomingathena #nonprofitgladiator