Make 2024 the year you ramped up your fundraising capacity: Strive to thrive

By Mark Rountree
Partner, Of Counsel

Photo of Mark Rountree
Mark Rountree

Calling all fundraisers, executive directors, and volunteer leaders!

Whether you’re currently working in fundraising, considering a career change, or serve on a board or as a volunteer fundraiser, it can be intimidating to learn and keep up with all the ins and outs of the profession.

But never fear, the wonderful Tawanda Owsley and I are here! Together, we’re spearheading a two-day crash course through the CNPE School for Fundraising and Engagement. By participating in Strive to Thrive: A Two-Day Certificate Course in Fundraising, you’ll equip yourself with skills that can help you increase your effectiveness at your nonprofit and make you more competitive as nonprofits seek talented fundraisers for critical roles in their organizations.

Who should attend the course?

This two-day course will be an intensive and comprehensive immersive experience, exploring a dozen different topics in development and fundraising – and, more broadly, community engagement. The content is geared primarily toward organizations who have small or mid-size development/fundraising teams, anywhere from one to five people. Larger organizations could send someone who specializes in a particular area within development but could benefit from a more holistic view. Either way, attendees should crave more information about the entire universe of fundraising, not just one particular topic.

That said, the course is available to and would be valuable for any volunteer leaders or nonprofit professionals, including executive directors or CEOs – especially if the leader is currently wearing some or all of the other hats in the organization.

If I attend the Strive to Thrive intensive course, what can I expect?

This will be an in-person, on-site course with 30 of your peers, held at Metro United Way in downtown Louisville. During each of the two days, we’ll spend 45-60 minutes in each of a dozen topic areas. While participants will mostly hear from me and Tawanda, about half the sessions will include conversations with panelists who are simply there to offer advice, share their experiences, and answer questions. With this course and all the CNPE School for Fundraising and Engagement classes, we feel the bulk of the content should come from people who do or have done this work for a living.

Who will be teaching this course?

In addition to our co-facilitators who will lead the course (Tawanda Owsley and myself), we are pleased to welcome the following nonprofit leaders to our panels (with more to come!):

  • Jennie Jean Davidson, Neighborhood House
  • Gary Friedman, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana
  • Beth Hobson, CFRE, Hosparus Health
  • DeVone Holt, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky
  • Jackie Keating, Dare to Care
  • Kathy Knotts, The Gheens Foundation
  • Mike Mays, Heine Brothers’ Coffee, past board chair of Educational Justice
  • Anne McKune, Community Foundation of Louisville
  • Anne Monell, CFRE, Legacy Foundation of Kentuckiana
  • Ashley Parrott, James Graham Brown Foundation
  • Tonya Schweitzer, The Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana
  • Heather Singleton, CFRE, Norton Healthcare Foundation
  • Daryle W. Unseld Jr., Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana
  • Katina Whitlock, GE Appliances, A Haier Company
Image of information about Strive to Thrive fundraising certificate course.

What are the benefits of attending?

Often, people move on from a fundraising job too quickly after experiencing early disappointments or slow results.  We want to remind people what it feels like to be in a successful and rewarding career, share our tips for avoiding burnout, and, importantly, help them realize when they should ask for help.

Tawanda and I see this course as more than just information sharing. The ultimate goal is to build a support group among participants, so they meet other people doing similar work. That’s why both course days will end with a social hour. This experience is only the beginning of the real process of fundraising, and we hope attendees will become lifelong learners and seek additional education, including CFRE.

Plus, if anyone’s interest is particularly piqued on any of the topics presented, each is available as a standalone, two-hour class through the CNPE School for Fundraising and Engagement, so participants can take advantage of additional, deeper learning about any of these areas of focus.

How did this course come about?

When we started the School for Fundraising and Engagement in winter 2021, we originally intended to offer a different certificate program. We wanted to encourage people to take as many courses as possible that would open their eyes to different experiences and build their capacity. Under that original model, if you completed eight courses within three years, we would present a certificate of completion. Six courses were considered fundamentals to development success (including annual giving, major gifts, business partnerships, program planning, and more) and were required, while you could pick two “electives” that were of particular interest to you or your service Some of the courses were available for CFRE credit.

However, we noticed that while dozens of students had attended three, four, or even five courses, few were attempting to take all eight for the certificate. We received feedback that it was challenging to find the time and budget to get all the courses done. Participants expressed interest in a more traditional experience of two- to three-day courses or seminars that would allow them to fully focus and be in “learning mode.”

So, we started planning an affordable, local option to meet that demand. We want to offer something “homegrown” that caters to the specific needs of our Louisville Metro and southern Indiana development professionals, with sessions led by local leaders who have had experiences similar to our attendees.

What’s your long-term goal for this type of course?

Over the next five or more years, we’d ideally like to create cohorts of 100 or more individuals who’ve received a certificate of competency and had their minds lit up with content, questions, and best practices to take home and use right away. In turn, they become better at what they do and strive to make their colleagues better, too.

Have questions or need more information? Get in touch with Mark.