An inside look into working with nonprofits
We sat down with Kathy Fitzgerald to ask her a few questions about why she chose the nonprofit sector to work in, what she looked for when hiring staff, and her venture into online courses
Q & A with Kathy Fitzgerald
Why did you begin your work in the nonprofit sector?
I could see the benefits of what you can do as a volunteer, bringing great #volunteers together you can get so much done. Together with a small group of volunteers, I set up a lunch program at our community school and also set up a babysitting co-op. I could see immediate results and the benefit it gave to the community.
What did your job as a Director of nonprofits entail??
A large part of my role was building relationships with donors, businesses, and government bodies to benefit the organization. I also worked closely with volunteer board of directors in their various roles working with their strengths and connections with the business sector. Hiring and working with staff to manage programs and annual #fundraising events was also an integral part of managing operations on a daily basis.
What are some challenges you faced while working as a leader in the nonprofit world?
There is always a challenge to provide good services within a budget, and you want to maintain a great quality of services. It’s necessary to always be cognizant of raising more funds, while also keeping a good relationship with donors. There can also be challenges with staff particularly as wages are traditionally lower for the nonprofit sector. Keeping good staff can be difficult which led me to raise salaries as often as I could to be more competitive and stay within my budget.
Another challenge for many nonprofits can be keeping a positive identity with the general public and donors. I was fortunate in building strong relationships with the #media which helped the organization’s message reach a broader audience and increase #donors trust.
How did you go about hiring prospective staff to work in lead roles at your organization?
We put an advertisement on relevant online recruiting sites and put the word out in #nonprofit professional sites as well as social media. I always look for someone with energy and passion for the organization because they will bring that to their role. They should also have some proven experience in some aspect of the role I’m hiring for, and or shown that they are working towards that area of knowledge by taking courses. Key administration, writing and computer skills are also considered.
When were your busiest times of year and how did you cope with added work load?
Events are a time you very much rely on great staff and volunteers. Volunteer and event staff, as well as administrators, have to step up and manage the extra workload that comes with any type of event, but team work is key. The board also plays an important role during busy periods because they are there to support the organization by, for example, selling tables and bringing people and business associates to the #events. Year end is another busy time in finalizing the year’s finances and creating a budget for the following year which requires working with accountants and the board to ensure that regulations are abided by.
What do you enjoy about working with donors and how do you maintain a good relationship?
Donors usually have their own interests and causes close to their heart. When they choose your organization to support it’s the best compliment you could receive. They put their money and trust in you and your staff that their money is spent wisely, and we need to communicate back to our donors all successes and outcomes.
Why did you go about starting online nonprofit courses?
I could see there is a gap in education and learning the tools and skills to be successful in running fundraising events. Everybody has a different way of putting on events, some organizations have been doing the same events for years and can find ways to make things simpler and better organized. I have put together my knowledge based on the success I’ve had by working with multiple nonprofits.
In order to run anything successful it is helpful to have templates and examples that have been tried and tested which event planners can use immediately knowing the resources are based on successful events.
There is so much information on the internet but it builds confusion in trying to figure out the best information to use. My course takes the confusion and wasted time out of searching for the best event planning resource. My courses, which are offered through teachable.com, can benefit individuals seeking a #career in event planning and nonprofit groups to increase their success in raising funds and broadening their support base.