Why SIDAR?  How Could We Pass This Up?!?

When I first started my career in advancement there were no degrees in philanthropic leadership, no classes in non-profit management, and definitely no internships available for those who were considering getting their feet wet in fundraising as a potential career.

I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors who brought me up in the field over the years, teaching me the ins and outs of mission-driven philanthropy as my own sub-field of Donor Relations was just starting to take shape.  I am indebted to them for giving me over twenty-five years of invaluable education.

So the SIDAR program was naturally appealing – this is an opportunity to impart essential knowledge in the fields of development and donor relations to students who have my own interest in advancement.  It’s a chance to share some of what was so generously given to me throughout my career.   And to Rutgers students to boot!  As an alumna this is a threefold opportunity: to give back to my alma mater, to provide mentoring to fresh young Rutgers minds, and to assist in growing the Foundation’s donor relations program.

I agreed to participate because I knew that our interns would bring a renewed vigor to the office and assist us with critical projects.  Yingxing and Rossie are aiding us with a follow-up to our last event of the season, a fellowship research project, analysis of the Momentum survey, recognition for donors of 4-year scholarships, Milestone report research, an event preference database, and a host of other projects that will give them exposure to the breadth of the work that we do in Donor Relations.  One project in particular – the Big10 Donor Relations Best Practices survey – will serve not only Rutgers, but also the Big10 community as a whole, as such the interns are making a beneficial contribution to the field.

Their participation gives us a new perspective on what we do and WHY we do it.  Their eagerness to learn and willingness to jump right in have energized my team. Their presence adds to the culture of the office, giving us the millennial viewpoint that is becoming increasingly more important to our efforts as we branch out in social media and outreach to our younger alumni and donors.  We encourage them to give us honest feedback on every project they will touch; we want to hear their suggestions.  In fact, in just one week and one interaction with an intern we have already given new thought to how we connect with current students about their scholarships.

SIDAR is an undeniable win-win-WIN situation: a win for Donor Relations, a win for the student interns, and a big WIN for Rutgers.   It is a privilege to have Yingxing and Rossie on our team for the summer.

Roberta O’Hara
Senior Director of Donor Relations, Rutgers University Foundation

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