Like many of us during these strange days, the list of people I’m worried about is a long one. My family. Friends. Clients. Strangers near and far.
But often, persistently, my thoughts go to one group of people I think will be most affected by the retrenchment of our world: young people just beginning their professional careers.
I think of Hallie, who worked so hard at university, including an ambitious study-abroad program, then began to look for a first job–now back at home with her parents, with considerable student loans, looking for “anything.”
I think of Delia, who had planned to go to law school and began studying for the entry exams—now at home with her parents, putting aside school altogether for at least a year until things return “to normal.”
I think of James, a creative, vibrant person who had been leading the membership division of an NGO in London—now unemployed and job-hunting side by side at home with his partner, who was also laid off.
Our young people have so much to lose. This article in the Atlantic Magazine is well worth your time, highlighting the risk for “Generation Work from Home.”
If you are of my generation, you’ll remember starting work long ago. You watched carefully everyone in the room, to see how people led a meeting, how people dressed, how people chose their words. You’ll remember when someone more experienced suggested having a coffee, and then really listened to you and encouraged you along your path. You’ll be forever grateful for the person who said, “You should meet my friend and talk to her about your ideas.”
But if young professionals are managing their work—and careers—from a desk in their childhood bedroom in their parents’ home, the network-building can be very, very difficult.
One of our values at RHI is mentorship. We are doing what we can to build the skills and capacity of young people so that they can enter the workforce in fundraising and nonprofit management. Our world needs more from this next generation than I can ever give them in return. We need everything they can bring to the table right now.
We are doing what we can to build the skills and capacity of young people so that they can enter the workforce in fundraising and nonprofit management
To that end, we have created two new programs.
The first new RHI program is IncuBetter. IncuBetter provides seed capital to an entrepreneur who wants to create a consulting firm or other social enterprise focusing on fundraising and social justice. It’s the best way I could think of to take what we do at RHI to scale. The first IncuBetter fellow is Hana Mandikova, who is founding Monkey Mind Solutions. Her creative idea is to help organizations bring the tools of mindfulness to fundraising. She wants us to get away from old paradigms of impossible fundraising goal-setting that weeds out talented people who cannot meet them fast enough, and move us to a thoughtful new framework of dynamic, mindful, engaged fundraising that invigorates and retains talent. We are investing in her start-up by providing funding, connections and counsel. If we can help more businesses like Monkey Mind Solutions, we are on our way to fulfilling our mission and adhering to one of our firm’s core values: mentorship.
The second program is an invitation-only, moderated forum that brings together people from many phases of their nonprofit careers. Participants come from around the world, from sectors including fundraising, government, and academia. We are helping one another to stand firm. Some of the topics we’re discussing: Leading from a Broken Heart; Mindfulness and Leadership; Equity and Power, Power and Equity; and Staying Motivated. Those participating represent literally thousands of clients served, millions of dollars/pounds in operating budgets, hundreds of jobs, and incalculable impact for social good. This group cannot afford to falter. Their organizations cannot afford to fail. And this forum also can serve as a network for young people who need to build connections so that their career can grow. The forum is capped at 50 people now, but might reopen again in January 2021.
These two new programs are part of portfolio we’ve been building since our founding in 2016. Each program focuses on increasing the capacity of individuals and organisations to better serve the social justice sector. Here is the portfolio of capacity-building programs at RHI:
- Ready to RISE, for brand-new nonprofits that need a fast, early infusion of fundraising counsel;
- Racing Upwards, providing professionals from communities of color with skills and strategies in fundraising through a paid three- to six-month fellowship;
- Our Artist-in-Residence program, under the leadership of teaching artist Eleni Litt of Yellow Ladders Studio, whose workshops provide respite and play to those in the social justice sector;
- The Forum.
We are framing these programs under one title that says it all: Stronger/Together. The title comes from my perspective—perhaps yours as well—that there is enough. There are enough resources to share. We are stronger, together, particularly during this extraordinary time.
And a final thought: If you are of my generation, I encourage you to reach out to a young professional todayand ask how they are faring. Make an introduction for them. Encourage them. Help them build the network like the one that serves you today. There is no time to waste.
For more information about any of these programs or about strengthening the capacity of your organization, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.