As the semester grinds to a halt, and so too does my formal experience with the Humanics program, I thought it fitting to characterize both my experience with the Students4Giving Philanthropy project, as well as my currently informed inclinations about the program, experience, and newfound knowledge of the C.B.O. sector in general. And as luck should have it, I believe an excerpt from an essay I penned for class does more than an admirable job of doing so. So to whoever may read read this, I hope you find this insightful and enjoy the ideas expressed here:
“This experience clearly was a unique and outrageously beneficial opportunity for any, especially young professional in the CBO sector. I learned that I have a propensity for asking and crafting excellent questions, top notch interviewing skills, and would be a thoughtful and diligent investor when given the opportunity. I learned I’m more than capable of managing teams, and projects that possess real world implications and responsibilities. I learned that the “non-profit” sector is filled with worthy causes, and admirable people, but these traits alone do not guarantee success, sustainability, impact, or legacy. Rather, strategic and intentional thinking play crucial roles in this field. You need to collect every shred of relevant data to court potential funders and hopefully, indicate outcomes and impact. You need to engage in sound financial planning and top tier budgeting; should you hope to maximize valuable resources. You need to tell a good story, and instill a sense of urgency as to why your story is particularly pressing and indispensable. You need to plan years in advance, create a backup and succession plan, and scheme multiple strategies to achieve your goals should you be serious about achieving your mission. Collaboration and partnerships are essential in maximizing impact, building community assets, and equitably distributing valuable resources and easing financial burdens. These are but many insights I have absorbed from engaging in philanthropy this semester, and the Humanics program in general, all of which, will undoubtedly greater equip and inform my future in this sector, and hopefully aide my ability to truly enact social change.
I believe the lingering impacts of this course and related experience have yet to fully reveal themselves to me, yet I remain convinced that they will assist me for years to come. It’s difficult to choose one component of this experience as the most influential or beneficial personally. Yet if I had to venture a guess for the sake of the assignment and reflection purposes, I would say the fact that I had an opportunity with a group of equally passionate scholars to invest in our community, and make a tangible impact as a young professional. The clear and indispensable merit of this grant upon the Poverello House when I saw the system Jessica uses on a daily basis, and the transformative potential this investment clearly has is a vision that won’t leave my memory anytime soon. Nor is the vision of watching her holding a behemoth check, and beaming through glasses as she struggled to smile and stay in the frame of the photographers at Arte Americas. I fully intend to volunteer in the future with Poverello House and see how the investment is functioning, and ideally I would be able to attend their volunteer appreciation banquet. These actions also reflect inevitable changes I’ve undergone in this process, affording me an opportunity to be an investor, and to actively monitor those investments, rather than simply make them at one point in time.
The experience of altruistically investing, or philanthropy has altered my perspective even further in that unproven scholars and community members were given an opportunity to invest (financially), and actively shape their community; from my perspective, a rare and infrequent power, seldom bestowed on people without means or considerable means. And I firmly believe, we scholars made sound decisions, and invested wisely; to our community’s benefit. This leads me to believe many others who aren’t privy to this opportunity, with a little guidance, could also excel with an opportunity like this, if only given the opportunity to do so. And the possibility of what our society and world might look like, if this were a reality escapes me, but I’m inclined to believe it would be a vast improvement over our current state of affairs. So rather than become bitter, I will become thankful in that these opportunities exist in small yet enlightened pockets, and I was able in inhabit one such pocket for a time.
Ultimately, my experience in philanthropic giving in Fresno has informed and changed myself and my future. I’ve become more informed about the responsibility of an investment that affects others. I’ve discovered unknown talents and capacities. I’ve balanced empathy and logic. I’ve greatly bolstered my professional capability, and added beneficial career experience. And perhaps most importantly, I’ve made a difference in the community. Yet these are profound personal impacts that can be realized at the moment, it’s impossible to foresee the totality of value this experience has granted my future and life. So I will leave you, with the satisfaction and quite possibly, relief, knowing that you too have made a sound investment; thank you.”