Ruthellen Rubin
& Associates

Consulting for Nonprofits and Philanthropies


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The Nonprofit Blog

Professional Development in the Cyber Classroom

For the last ten years I have enjoyed facilitating educational workshops, seminars and classes for nonprofit professionals specializing in the art of fundraising.  Whether it's been a large lecture setting at a conference, a medium sized workshop at the Support Center or a masters class at New York University, the most rewarding aspect for me has always been when the participants can share their experiences and take inspiration from one another. 

Many of us tend to share the same challenges of:  getting online giving down to one reliable click; keeping current with the frequent updates and improvements to our donor databases;  turning our volunteers into donors and our board members into solicitors.  When we hear from another development director that she communicated with a major donor by text message and that donor was not insulted by the intrusion, we are empowered to envision the future of communication at our organization.  When a colleague shares a story about how he worked with his novice board to create and institute a meaningful and enforceable board giving policy, we become a bit more confident that yes, that is our role.

My classes have always had a firm curriculum and I love to teach.  However, the collective experience in the classroom far outweighs my individual experience and observations.  Group work, peer reactions and evaluations, and particularly oral presentations are some of my favorite instructional methods.

And so, I have resisted the foray into the cyber classroom for fear of not being able to bring my students together in the same way.  I know that the technology today can be extremely interactive.  But, how will I draw out the introverts who, in my experience, generally contribute the most thoughtful comments to the discussion?  How will I build the trust among my students that they will be comfortable offering advice to one another?  And how in the world will I know that they are focused on the class and not painting their toenails or playing online poker on the split screen.  I guess I won't.

But -- as we say down at the University -- that train has left the station.  We are no longer debating whether classroom learning or cyber learning is best.  Individuals from around the world and in the most remote locations have access to the same education.  Even though students may live close to where classroom instruction is available, they are choosing to take courses at home in their pajamas. 

As professors and lecturers, we must adapt and embrace this new pedagogy.  We should encourage our institutions and training centers to investigate all available technology and train us in this type of instruction to help us become the very best we can be at online teaching.  We must get this right.

In the coming year I will be offering courses online for the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at NYU.  On January 20th at 2pm Eastern Time, join me for a brand new Webinar I have customized for GrantStation, Matchmaker, Matchmaker:  Meeting the Challenge of a Matching Grant.  I'm working on a presentation that I hope will bring the cyber classroom to life!     

After many years of small grants from the Food First Foundation, your organization was finally awarded a $100,000 grant towards the renovation of your Soup Kitchen. But wait...there's a catch...it's not an outright gift. The Food First Foundation will "match" each dollar your organization raises, up to $100,000. The cost of the renovation is $200,000. If you can do this, you've got it made. What's your strategy? In this webinar Ruthellen Rubin will explore the most common types of matching grants, how to cultivate and solicit matching grants, what you need to consider before you accept the grant, how this impacts your annual fundraising, and the ways a grant of this type can build sustainable partnerships. This webinar will not only help you maximize the potential of your matching grant opportunity, it will also help bolster your overall grants strategy. The webinar is a great introduction to this topic for novice development staff as well as an inspiring refresher for the seasoned development professional. This webinar will be held on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Click to register.

Tuesday January 20, 2015 2:00 PM Eastern Time (U.S.), 90 minutes
Fee: $89.00 per person, $150.00 per site

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