Linda Ray's Fund Development Boot Camp

Linda Rays Boot Camp 2018

The joys and challenges of not-for-profit fund development have fueled regular and spirited dinner conversations between Oishei Foundation's VP of Philanthropic Support, Karen Spaulding, and Linda Ray, an established leader in the world of NFP consulting, since late 2013, when the Foundation first established an office to provide management assistance to NFP organizations.

After much conversation, research, and thinking about what the field was telling us it needed, Linda Ray, a consultant whose deep experience in aerospace engineering is complemented by her work in the NFP world -- as development director in several NFP organizations and executive director of the Family Justice Center -- launched the first Fund Development Boot Camp in 2017, designed to bring together small cohorts of 6-8 emerging, high-potential professionals to engage in learning and conversation about the macro and micro work of fund development.

With the belief that fund development is as much science as art, Linda guides the participants in this highly customized four-month program through facilitated presentations, group discussions, coaching, and between-sessions homework to expand and enhance their fluency in this key aspect of not-for-profit work.

They toggle between high-level philosophical discussions and development of practical, on-the-ground, tactics to achieve strategic objectives, discussing the culture of philanthropy and its significance to an organization's sustainability; understanding major gifts; making data-driven decisions using a donor management system; deploying human resources in ways to maximize their talents; and creating, executing and measuring an organization's Annual Development Plan.

At this year-end gathering of representatives from three cohorts, which had the air of a college reunion of old and dear friends, participants shared their thoughts about their Boot Camp experience, from the value of learning best practices with talented peers and being a part of a tightly knit community of development colleagues to the generous and rigorous mentorship of Linda Ray as "Camp Director." They all agreed it had been transformational for each of them, both personally and professionally.

The fourth cohort will begin its work in February 2019, and the fifth is planned for September 2019.

Plans are also in the works, in partnership with Oishei's Office of Philanthropic Support, to present three master classes for the cohorts, featuring nationally renowned guest speakers on such important initiatives as Capital Campaigns and Endowment initiatives.

Such work is only one example of the non-grantmaking strategies of Oishei's Office of Philanthropic Support.

Photo Left to right:

Front: Karen Spaulding, The John R. Oishei Foundation; Britt Call, Buffalo History Museum; Lauren Breen, Neighborhood Legal Services; Kate Hilliman, Westside Community Services; Linda Ray, Boot Camp Director; Maiko Tanaka, Squeaky Wheel; Kim Nicosia, Neglia Ballet; Antonina Semeti, Groundwork Buffalo; Stephanie Lawson, Habitat for Humanity

Rear: Erin Carmina, MAP; Melissa Fratello, Buffalo Audubon Society; Nila Griffis-Lampman, Ashford-Hollow Foundation; Desmund Rudd, Teach for America; Jessie Henschel, Crisis Services; Beth Ireland, Young Audiences of WNY