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Columbia Continuing Education Launches Fundraising Management Program

By Caroline Ladhani

The new fundraising management program is offered through Columbia Continuing Education. Pictured are Frank Wolf, dean of Continuing Education, and Daphne Estwick, the assistant dean who designed and manages the new program.

As the events of Sept. 11 bring increased attention to the field of fundraising, this month Continuing Education at Columbia launches a rigorous new certificate program to give practical training in fundraising.

"Columbia's Fundraising Management Program presents an important opportunity for professional training for those either already working for nonprofit organizations, or those thinking of such a career. Students will learn from experienced, practicing professionals how to undertake an integrated fundraising program consistent with the goals and potential of a given organization," said Frank Wolf, dean of Continuing Education.

The demand for highly skilled fundraising professionals is relatively new. As recently as 10 years ago, most fundraisers learned their profession on the job. Stephen M. Levy, president of Levy Philanthropic Counsel, a fundraising consulting firm, and former chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Foundation Board who will teach fundraising at Columbia, said many nonprofits simply do not have the time or expertise to effectively train professionals themselves, especially for ambitious initiatives like high-dollar capital campaigns, planned giving programs and meaningful annual campaigns.

Planning, implementing and managing a comprehensive fundraising campaign for a real-world nonprofit organization will be at the center of the Columbia program as will understanding why people give, not just the basics and process of how to raise philanthropic dollars, said Levy, who will teach the introductory course "Fundraising Essentials." He said fundraisers will become more efficient if they understand not only why people give but recognize the significance that the emotional satisfaction of the donor is as valuable as the gift.

"There are a substantial number of senior-level positions available for people who acquire the necessary knowledge and are highly skilled," said Levy. "One primary reason for the increase is that numerous organizations have launched capital campaigns and also understand why they need to institutionalize a major gift program to secure the services and programs they provide."

The new certificate program starts January 22 and includes a total of six eight-week courses. These evening classes are held on Monday or Tuesday, from 6:10 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Students can choose to take one or more of the courses per session, and may register on or before January 22.

Instructors include high-ranking fundraising professionals from such nonprofit organizations as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York Historical Society, Children's Hospital Foundation at Westchester Medical Center, the Museum of Modern Art as well as professionals from the consulting firms of Myerberg Shain & Associates and Levy Philanthropic Counsel.

The increased demand for highly skilled development professionals may also be due to the fact that there are more nonprofits now than 10 years ago, said Levy. For example, Crain's New York Business reported that the number of nonprofits in New York City alone has jumped from 19,500 in 1990 to approximately 30,000 in 2001. Immediately following 9/11, many New York City nonprofits reportedly feared they would have to reduce or cancel scheduled fundraisers because individual and corporate donors were mostly funneling money into 9/11 funds, especially large relief agencies like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. But in the closing weeks of 2001 this trend appeared to be turning around. During recent gala events, WNYC public radio, the New York Hall of Science and the Metropolitan Museum of Art surpassed fundraising goals. Whether the change is due to some improvement in the stock market or whether people are now more in the giving "mode," charitable giving seems to be on the rise.

"In the past six months, there has been a huge setback, but that will come back," said Levy. "People are giving money. It's being written about more, spoken about more-it's the 'in' thing to do."

Students can tailor their course of study to fit their career needs. For instance, an individual working in annual giving who wants to change to planned giving, can adjust his or her own course schedule accordingly.

Students in the new program range from newcomers to those with experience who want to move up the ladder.

"These courses are not theoretical, they are very practical," said Daphne Estwick, an assistant dean for Continuing Education who designed and manages the new program. "People will be applying what they're learning very quickly."

Published: Jan 16, 2002
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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