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The Rise of Technology and Fundraising Education

College and university programs are helping educate the fundraising sector.

December 2013 BY JOE BOLAND
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Over the past 20 years or so — and especially the last decade — there has been a rise in colleges and universities dedicating studies to the profession of fundraising. It’s led to a whole new generation of fundraisers learning some of the tricks of the trade before graduating, thus entering the field with some practical knowledge of how things work.

One school is New York University’s George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, which offers a master’s and noncredit certificate programs, and other noncredit courses. Here, Marcia Stepanek, an adjunct professor at the Heyman Center, speaks with FundRaising Success about the rise of technology and how the Heyman Center and schools like it are educating the fundraising sector.

FundRaising Success: How did you get involved with teaching at NYU?
Marcia Stepanek:
I’m the center’s new media advisor, and I’m on the master’s faculty. I have developed a master’s course in social-media strategy and another in cause video, and I also teach in the noncredit program social media and cause video.

I taught the center’s first course in social media way back in 2010, and two years ago I created in our master’s curriculum a very popular course that includes a 14-week strategy session where one of the students takes on a nonprofit and develops a social-media strategy for the organization to help it with new tools to achieve some of its goals. And then I’ve created a cause video lab for the center, which is a series of one-day labs that both apply classroom lessons and storytelling and story-gathering with editing boot camps, if you will, which teach students how to shoot, edit and distribute their very short videos using smartphones.

It’s been really fun. I work at the nexus of storytelling, multimedia journalism, fundraising and entrepreneurialism.

You’re seeing these tools basically take what had been the advocation of many high-net-worth individuals — the 1 percent —  and put the ability to jump in and participate in cause building and  nonprofit advocacy into the hands of the 99 percent. We see both very wealthy people and not-so-wealthy people but very passionate people across the board getting involved to make the world a better place. It’s really an exciting time for a lot of these tools and how to use them to better convey the work that needs to be done out there.

 

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