Growing up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I aspired to become the next Blake Street Bomber for the Colorado Rockies, and I spent every spring and summer chasing that dream. Becoming a MLB All-Star was always Plan A, but when I reached high school, I knew I was not going to be drafted by the Rockies. Instead, I chose to play baseball at a small liberal arts school in Nebraska. I sought an alternative career path, and El Pomar’s Fellowship Program is now a stepping-stone toward a big league career in fundraising.
The Fellowship Program provides our team with the resources and support to chase our dreams. The Fellows arrive at El Pomar with diverse backgrounds and career aspirations, and the Fellowship is designed to let us explore our areas of interest while developing our leadership skills.
Every Monday, we attend professional development training on a wide variety of topics. This month we have been inspired by a number of Colorado’s finest fundraising professionals who taught us about fund development.
Kelley Parker, the major gifts manager at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, integrated donor stories and cuddly pictures of animals to teach us about annual and capital campaigns. Camille Howells discussed how Strive Preparatory Schools builds a successful case for support, and Suzanne Connors of Graland Country Day School provided a crash course on the basics of fundraising.
The Fellowship’s professional development speakers give us insight into another side of the nonprofit sector. The speakers illustrate potential career paths after the Fellowship, and they act as mentors as we decide our futures. This month I solidified my desire to pursue a role in nonprofit fundraising after the Fellowship. The fundraising professionals spoke enthusiastically about their relationships with donors, and they showed a passion for their organizations. I want to find a career where I can improve my community and connect with others, and fundraising meets both objectives.
The opportunity to interact with established professionals on a weekly basis is invaluable for the Fellows. The professional development schedule allows Fellows explore a wide range of dreams. Many of us are still deciding on our dreams, but the Fellowship helps us develop the knowledge, skills, and network to set our sights high.