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


Corporate and Foundation Relations at RUF

After my first month in this inaugural program, I find myself constantly wondering, “Why am I just discovering this now?”. From the outside looking in, the field of development seems like it is hidden in shadows for no one to see the true nature of its work. It is a field of work that is a mystery to the common university student, but the individuals that work in this field are the heroes behind the scenes. You are told by family growing up that you need to find your calling by being adventurous and exploring the many opportunities that the world has in store for you. People bounce around from department to department or job to job for years, just looking for the place that they can call home. Luckily for me, I was placed from day one in a department that has done nothing but support and make me appreciate the work that goes into a nonprofit along with enhancing my understanding of development as a whole.

I have been working in Corporate and Foundation Relations for the past month and I could not feel more at home than I do with the CFR team. The directors and other fundraisers that I get to work with on a daily basis have been nothing but supportive so far in answering any one of the 200 questions I seem to have on a daily basis. They all stem from diverse backgrounds and are all approachable, helpful and fun to be around. The project that I have been tasked with involves researching, assessing, finding connections within the Rutgers network and reaching out to New Jersey’s Top 50 Most Wealthy as well as The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 50 Most Generous Donors in America. My job is to discover new funding sources from these lists for CFR that would ultimately lead to a proposal being sent to these foundations or corporations. The work that I am doing feels impactful and I feel like an important part of a professional team. I am going through a set process with four distinct stages that have me working with two directors within my office per stage that advise me along the way. Having a basic structure to work with while still being allowed some room for unique interpretation is what I value most about this process and gives me a unique view of a post-graduation professional environment. Working with nine other smart and capable interns in other departments really gives me an all-around perspective of the Foundation as a whole and I could not be more satisfied with those that I work with.

The SIDAR Program has completely shattered stereotypes when it comes to typical internship responsibilities. The amount of joy that I feel to be doing actual meaningful work in support of the university is unmeasurable and I am more than satisfied being occupied with projects that directly affect the CFR team and the Foundation positively. I have learned so much in just 4 weeks about just how impactful Rutgers is to not just the New Brunswick and Piscataway communities, but to our country. Rutgers does so much work and I will without a doubt be an advocate for the heroes that work behind the scenes. I look forward to these last few weeks to open me up even more to the concept of working in development and I’m excited about the adventure this internship is taking us on to support the future of the Rutgers community.

Mark Anderson

SIDAR, Corporate and Foundation Relations

A View from the Tracks

Last Monday for my first week in the SIDAR program I didn’t know if I was more worried about meeting my unit host and seeing if we would have a connection (don’t worry, I have yet to meet someone at the Foundation that I didn’t like), or discovering more about the internship and finding out it actually was not for me (again, don’t worry. I’m starting to really like it here—all the lunch meetings we had last week didn’t hurt…). Or if I was going to figure out the NJ Transit train web and not come into work fumbling and late every day. The train was definitely the most daunting and worrying about it took away most of my beauty sleep the night before our first day.

Now, just a week later, each morning as I begrudgingly roll out of bed I feel like a real adult. A real adult because I can sigh, “Mondays” like the rest of them, but I can get myself up, make my breakfast, stand at the specific spot on the platform where all the super-cool train regulars know the car doors will stop and successfully make it to work on time. Just yesterday, I helped a couple from Oklahoma navigate the North East Corridor Line and find a new degree of patience when one of my fellow passengers is talking too loud on their cell phone. Like the Rutgers bus system and all its hassle, after the first week everyone’s a pro.

For all that, the best part about taking the train is not the grown-up confidence it gives me, but every morning, just before we roll into the New Brunswick station, I catch a glimpse of the Raritan River. And that’s the best part. For 30 seconds each morning, I’m filled with a swelling sense of pride as I can begin to connect my newfound knowledge of Rutgers and the Rutgers University Foundation and translate it into the landmarks sitting on the banks.

Straight down the river I can see High Point Solutions Stadium peak out across the trees and I think of my cohorts Emma and Yvans working in Athletic Development. Next, I can see the Johnson & Johnson Hamilton Street building and my mind now links with our SIDAR Mark in Corporate Foundation Relations. Close to my fold, in the School of Arts and Sciences Major Gifts Department, I can check up on the construction progress of our newest academic buildings that are slated to open this fall. Even the ads at the train station for Robert Wood Johnson make me think of Sean and Christina working in RBHS Development.

Every day, this flash from the train means so much more. I’m beginning to get it.  My daily train ritual now serves as the energetic charge-up for my day. It focuses me into what I want to accomplish today: what have I remembered from the day before that I want to expand on, what projects I’ll be assisting in, and what challenges I recognize not just as a member of the SIDAR program, but as a student.

Needless to say I’m excited for what lies ahead this summer. I’m ready to learn, to connect, and to take action in the things I feel passionate about and right now, there’s no better place to be than with the Rutgers University Foundation SIDAR program.

Madison Molner

SIDAR, School of Arts and Sciences Major Gifts

Annual Giving at RUF

As the intern assigned to the Annual Giving department, I have learned a great deal about alumni outreach and student philanthropy. I have examined and updated the scripts used during phone solicitations and given feedback on the mail-in campaign materials. I am also in the process of contacting several other universities to learn more about their fundraising strategies, which will help both the Annual Giving department and the SIDAR interns as the feedback I receive from my research of the other universities will give me valuable insights into the best methods for reaching out to millennials. Later in the summer, I will run a crowdfunding project for a student group from start to finish.

I have already met and worked individually with most members of the Annual Giving team, and they are a wonderful staff. Our guest lecturers on the Friday session have shared a lot of interesting knowledge and personal anecdotes, especially when it comes to gifts given in kind, as these gifts have proven to be both surprising and full of hidden value. My favorite experience thus far has been the trip to the Red Cross on the seventeenth of June, as the staff there was incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and they were eager to teach us about the management of a non-profit that exists and functions on a national and international level.

I look forward to my next seven weeks with the program.

Sandeep Patankar

SIDAR, Annual Giving

My First Week in SIDAR

After a rigorous interview process and much anticipation of June 6th to arrive, to be finally beginning my first week at the Rutgers University Foundation through the SIDAR program was a daunting task. A mix of nerves and excitement for the day had crept in as I walked towards Winants Hall, and as I ascended the stairs of one of the oldest buildings on our illustrious campus I realized that whatever awaited me on the second floor would be how I’d be spending the next ten weeks of my life.

As I stepped foot on the landing I was greeted quickly by the phenomenal members of the SIDAR team who are piloting the program at the foundation, and I was quickly ushered into a circle of people who I would find out were my SIDAR colleagues. In some ways, my fellow interns and I are guinea pigs for this program. There will be excellent SIDAR cohorts who may come after us, but we are trailblazers here at the Rutgers University Foundation who’ve joined only a select few other prestigious universities in developing a program like this to advance higher education development and fundraising through internships.

Knowing we are all together this summer may be the first common thread amongst our group, but almost instantly we were able to weave together more sophisticated threads that tied each other together and began to make up the tapestry for which Rutgers University proudly flies its flag. Being amongst those phenomenal people I knew that we were capable of great things, and in a week we’ve already built strong relationships with one another. I would be remiss to discuss my first week at the Rutgers University Foundation without mentioning the incredible colleague working with me at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Christine DeSpirito. Almost instantly that first day on the landing of Winants Hall while discussing our program with our incomparable unit leader, Denise Gavala, we formed a bond that has made our first week so successful. Christine and I have been tasked with a project that requires our constant attention, creativity and ingenuity. To this end, Denise has given us the guidance to set forth on this mission and learn as much as we can in these coming ten weeks.

An internship is only as good as those who prepare the program, those who lead the interns and the interns themselves. To have been selected for this program I know how talented my peers are, and I know how hard we all will work. I am spending my summer working on meaningful projects, surrounded by dedicated members of the Rutgers community, working alongside people that I can already tell I’m going to be friends with for a lifetime. To say all of this after only a week on the job is an indication of how incredible this experience will be the rest of the summer.

Sean Howard

SIDAR, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences


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