SIDAR – Athletic Development

My mom always told me to be frugal with my time, and never let anyone else spend it for me. I think this summer I can say I couldn’t have spent it more wisely. And, I know they say time flies when you’re having fun, but what do they say about time when the excitement never runs out and you finally come to grips with gravity? I know, I’m not quite sure either.

Closing in on the finish line to this innovative internship, it would be inaccurate for me to say that I did not learn a lot from this great opportunity. Like many students at Rutgers, I never realized the titanic influence that the Rutgers Foundation has on the whole institution (as well as our state of New Jersey and beyond). They basically help fund a majority of what is going on here at Rutgers, and yet, if you ask 100 kids on campus what the Foundation is and what it does, 90 of them would not even get past the first question. Tragic! Believe me, I was nowhere close to being an expert on what the Foundation actually did either, but by the end of my first day on the third floor of Winants Hall, I knew I was in for an enlightening summer with the Athletic Development team. The walls that became my new element would stretch my knowledge and professionalism to new heights, and I had no choice but to fasten up my seat-belt for the ride.

It took a bit longer than I’m proud to say before I realized that late-nighters and too much sugar in your coffee, was not actually not a clever tactic. Come to find out it actually does the adverse job (fun fact), on top of ruining your health if that wasn’t enough. Fortunately, as I sat in on more meetings and figured I could slip in my valuable comments here and there, I enjoyed even more the thought of leaving my cubicle for great adventures outside of my little abode. Interestingly enough, I also enjoyed the sight of my squishy dog and coffee mug, because I also dealt with some intriguing tasks for my team back there. From assisting with a brand new initiative for passionate alumni called the “Captain’s Program,” to interacting by phone and email with some of our top athletic donors for the 50 Yard Line Dinner event, adapting to this new world was pleasantly easier than I had imagined (you’d be surprised how many voicemails you can leave in one day, but I digress). Although, I must say without such an understanding and close-knit team nurturing my progress, it would’ve been just a tad tougher to develop into the everyday white-collar-and-a-tie-wearing young professional that I am today. I’ve learned that every single thing, no matter how minor, has the effect to change and impact someone’s relationship to Rutgers, so we must be cognizant of this in our every task, and in how we represent ourselves. I think it’s fair to say we have the BEST team in the foundation, no doubts about it. A special shout out to Lucy Cruz and Joe Levine for always including me and my fellow athletic development intern Emma in on most projects they work on, and bearing with us every time we ask questions.
My fellow cohort of interns deserves a shout out too, because they’ve also helped me take more initiatives and responsibility for work-related efforts, and there is definitely no lack of energy and enthusiasm among them. They are all walking philanthropists, looking for a way to help others however they are capable to do so. This was on display Monday July 25th, thanks to Sean and Marina’s brilliant idea. All together with some United Way representatives, every SIDAR went to volunteer at the Jamesburg Elementary School to hand out our personally made kits to a few first graders, and just show them how fun it is to read and be a grown-up. In a way we kind of got the chance to be big kids again, and play childhood games like ‘Crazy 8’s’ and ‘Go Fish’, and it felt good seeing all the kids enjoying themselves in our presence. During how many other internships can you say that you spent half of your day volunteering with kids, and hopefully turning on the light for even just one kid’s journey?

You see, I cannot just recount bits and pieces that make up the parts of this journey, nor give you hand-me-down experiences of our adventures, but I can tell you it wouldn’t be the worst idea to try and write your own story. One day millennial giving will be the new standard of living here at Rutgers, and I’m proud to be the part of the genesis to bring this culture to an eventual realization.

Thanks a lot, RUF.

Yvans Tsague
SIDAR – Athletic Development

R FUND Team Reflection

Not many college students know exactly what occurs in the field of higher education philanthropy. To have the opportunity to introduce such an impactful industry is something that is rewarding in itself. As a host for the Summer Internship in Donor and Alumni Relations, our office has been fortunate enough to provide two Rutgers students the chance to learn and gain firsthand experience in athletic development. Both Emma and Yvans have excelled in understanding what goes into fundraising for a Division I athletics department. From annual giving and premium seating to major gifts and special events, our SIDAR interns have gained a full understanding of all of the activities that must take place to engage, cultivate, and recognize those that support an institution.
With everything they have obtained throughout the time spent with our team, the athletic development staff has also learned a great deal from both Emma and Yvans. The two of them have been engaged in many projects and provided a new perspective for our team to consider. Their feedback has been beneficial on many levels, especially when discussing the engagement of young alumni. Both Emma and Yvans have become vital pieces of “R” team and will be missed when the summer program is completed.

Joe Levine
Associate Director of Athletic Development
Major Gifts and Premium Seating


Being a host for the SIDAR program has not only provided our team with extra hands to execute our busy calendar of solicitations, stewardship, communications, and summer projects, but has also expanded my mind. Through this experience, I’ve learned that every person can bring a different outlook on the fundraising process. Emma, our SIDAR intern who is a former gymnast for Rutgers, lent us a very specific point of view, and became our in-house expert on the student-athlete experience and how to use it to our advantage during fundraising. Yvans, our SIDAR intern who is a Rutgers Future Scholar and involved in a number of organizations on campus, lent us another specific point of view, and became our in-house expert on how the everyday-student interacts with our athletic department—and how we can improve that experience and use it to evolve.

By being engaged in our different projects and actively asking questions, both interns now have a keen understanding as to the amount of work that it takes to connect with people in the right way –in a way that makes them want to support our institution. By participating in the SIDAR process, Emma and Yvans are no longer just two sharply dressed student representatives, but they are young professionals with the tools to be strategic thinkers in fundraising or any field they choose to pursue.

Lucy Cruz
Athletic Development Assistant
Events and Stewardship

A view from CFR

Introducing Mark Anderson to the processes we live and breathe in the Corporate and Foundation Relations group has been great for all thus far! His inquisitive nature is perfect for development and he is eager to make an impact! He has already worked his way through both the ‘discovery’ and ‘assessment’ processes through which we find where “the money” is and then link it to the relevant part of RU. These two steps have been eye opening for Mark and he’s already begun integrating into his work the ‘network’ step—where potential interesting power connections to the potential funder(s) are identified.

Meanwhile, we are also mixing work and play: he’s introduced me to Tacoria (a favorite of his on Easton Ave) and next week we’ll be introducing him at a discussion with faculty about “Enhancing Science-Based Tools to Foster Community-Based Resilience Efforts.” We will be getting a dose of real time RU ‘brilliance’ from multiple disciplines on a climate change-related topic of local relevance.

Soon on the itinerary: some more introductions and the “outreach” phase, which includes a specific plan of attack to get a few doors opened for a select group of worthy Rutgers initiatives.  All is well here with Corporate and Foundation Relations and SIDAR!

Mike Marion 

Associate Vice President of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Rutgers University Foundation



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

SIDAR 2016: An Introduction

One of the things that brings pride to our work at RUF is our leadership’s dedication to building a pipeline for our future. Not just a donor pipeline, but enhanced staff opportunities and of course the future of our recruitment and retention efforts. The RUF Summer Internship in Development and Alumni Relations falls into that pipeline and we are thrilled to debut it this summer.

Our SIDAR interns represent an incredible cross-section of our student body, both undergraduate and graduate. They are motived, eager, sophisticated and ready to soak up everything RUF has to offer. Our unit hosts that will be housing these 10 interns (RBHS, SAS, Alumni Relations, Annual Giving, Donor Relations, Athletics, CFR) are taking time out of their already loaded schedules to mentor these students and welcome them into our ever-expanding industry and world.

This summer we will be challenging my colleagues to get to know the SIDAR interns and the program to catch a glimpse of our profession’s future. This is our opportunity to train the next generation of development directors, volunteer leaders, alumni relations officers, prospect researchers. Throughout the summer you’ll be able to read updates from the SIDAR Class of 2016, their hosts and the speakers coming in for our “classroom Fridays.”

I continue to go back to the incredible commitment RUF has pledged to this program. Without it, we would never have gotten it off the ground. We’re confident their investment will be worth it in spades. My thanks again to all of our interns, unit hosts, and Nevin for their commitment to the program and their support this summer!

Tahsin Alam
Director of Talent Management, Rutgers University Foundation