Charla Schafer, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine
At our Community Foundation, we have a team of four. If we were generous enough to hand out staff tenure awards, the lone pinning would be for one year of service. This leaves us with a bit of void in institutional experience.
The Iowa Council of Foundations helped us put our “foot on the gas” for team learning. We were fortunate to receive an ICoF capacity grant in the fall. This professional development funding allowed us to load up the whole crew and trek I-80 to the recent Community Foundations Bootcamp.
The two day training was on-point, covering the full gamut of Community Foundation work: their examples were highly relevant; it was presented in an easily absorbable format, by presenters that spend most of their days running Community Foundations; and the materials provided quick reference and comfort after we returned to the office. The information covered both the areas that we arrived hoping to learn more about, and even more critically, the areas that fall into “you don’t know what you don’t know” category.
At each break, members of our team were energetically comparing perspectives and reflecting on insights. The learning offered breadth and depth. It was a tremendous learning experience for all!
We came back to the office and immediately started implementing and evaluating our practices for possible improvements. In the first week, we began work around an expanded new fund template; incorporated life cycle slides and related organization stats into our upcoming Board meeting to enhance strategic direction; began conversation on scholarship timing to improve student financial aid outcomes; are in discussions to enhance pro-active granting at our advisory committee level; had discussion on identified endowment building opportunities and how they will fit within our marketing campaign; and the list goes on. We even left armed with improved terminology and talking points around difficult community issues. The ultimate winner of our time was our community, as our actions and outcomes will be increasingly efficient and effective.
The only caution I would throw, is to wear pants with elastic. As with most conferences, the food for breakfast, breaks, and lunch was abundant and delicious!
The ICoF continues to deliver… a true friend to Community Foundations and our community-building work. If you get a chance to attend the Bootcamp – take it. Pack bigger pants. And bring the team.