Behind the Scenes: Part 2

Feb 28, 2013   //   by Jacob   //   Blog, Compass People  //  No Comments

This is the second in a continuing series on real world skills that volunteers have developed through working with Compass. Read the first post here, written by Nathan and Josiah about technical aspects of managing a large and dynamic group, like creating a website and coordinating the server and mailing lists. In this post, I’ll talk a bit about fundraising.

The last couple of years I’ve been working to help raise funds to support all of the programs Compass runs. This has proceeded along a few fronts. First, we have applied for several grants. Some of these grants have been to national or local charitable organizations who fit in with our mission of supporting innovative science education and diversity in the sciences. Others were to various “in-house” programs at Berkeley that have funds to support student groups, new classes, etc.

Writing grants is a long and detail-oriented process. Aside from the obvious — potential funding for Compass — the main benefit for me personally has been that each grant application forces you to crystalize in writing exactly why Compass exists and how it is beneficial for the various populations it serves. Compass is amorphous and a bit of a moving target, and so these thought exercises provide valuable clarification.

Another important source of funds has been our summer fundraiser, in which we’ve asked friends and family of Compass to chip in a little bit to keep our summer program running. Josh Shiode and Nicole Carlson organized the original fundraiser in 2011, and I helped to carry on the work last year. Initially, I was not at all comfortable directly asking — or begging, some might say — for money. But once I mentally reframed the fundraiser as merely describing the merits of Compass to potential donors, I became much more comfortable with the work. The fundraising process has also been useful for the organization, as we now have a scalable system for keeping track of our contacts and donations, largely thanks to Josiah.

All in all, I’m proud to have done my bit to help keep Compass moving, and the main reason I’m involved is because I think Compass is valuable and important. But it’s also personally rewarding, and developing these kinds of skills is one of the reasons why.

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