10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week, Kristen Ruff, Member Services Manager at Philanthropy New York.
Member Services can encompass almost every task at an association. What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities?
That’s the fun thing about Member Services—you never get bored! My day-to-day work could include anything from planning programs for subsets of our membership (such as our CEO roundtables), to coordinating professional peer networks (like our Foundation Administrators Network), to working on new initiatives (i.e., our Young Leaders Breakfast Club), to managing and reporting on member information through the database.
What would you say is Philanthropy New York’s most popular member program?
We have close to 300 members so their interests really run the gamut. Our members love our core skill-building classes, such as our tax and financial analysis series, but they also turn out in large numbers for our Thought Leader programs, where we invite recognized pioneers, both within and outside the field of philanthropy, to discuss “big picture” topics and engage in dialogue with the audience.
How did the Documentary Film Series get started? I’m jealous every time I see those posted.
The idea for the film series started with two Board members, Vince Stehle and Orlando Bagwell—both of whom do a significant amount of work in film and new media. The goal of the series is to showcase documentaries as an alternative vehicle for furthering foundation missions and increasing the visibility of social issues. Each screening is preceded by a wine and cheese reception and followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. Although we originally limited attendance to members and their guests, we have found that by opening it up to students, nonprofits, and members, the events have taken on a new energy and the conversations with filmmakers are more robust. The credit for pulling off the events each month goes to my colleagues Roshni Melia and Marjorie Rutimann!
The Foundations on the Hill- District Days Web site is now LIVE at www.foundationsonthehill.org/districtdays. The site contains a host of resources (including updated issue papers, legal considerations and frequently asked questions, template letter of invitations, legislator contact information and media tools) to help you plan and coordinate any district events that you may be considering for the upcoming congressional recesses. As you begin to finalize your plans please be sure to register your district days events through the site. While there is no cost associated with registration for district days, we ask that you share your initiatives so that we are aware of the various events taking place across the country. Please note: as you register for district days we will include your event on the district days calendar. We will NOT include all details of the event unless you indicate otherwise.
Please contact the Mary O’Neill (703-879-0811) or Courtney Moore (703-879-0809) at the Forum or Chatrane Birbal (703-879-0689) at the Council with any questions.
Have you been watching the good work of the LearnPhilanthropy team? You should. They’ve recently revealed the results of their initial field-wide user needs surveys and the data is very interesting. Finding out what people want is a pretty good way of finding out what you should do. Consider this a glimpse of the future.
- Respondents want a multi-focused system: field-wide catalog (67%); education and training outlines relative to common career paths (59%); and providing education or materials in addition to what currently exists in the field (58%). [HART]
- Respondents expect to pay ala carte for each offering (73%) but also expect membership fees (54%), and grants (50%) to support a field-wide system. [HART]
- Most organizations (56%) do not have someone formally tasked with training and learning. In organizations with 10 or fewer staff, the Executive Director/President is mentioned as the most frequent decision maker (40%). In organizations with 11 or greater paid staff, supervisors are cited by 25% of the respondents as the decision maker. [HART]
- Learning that includes networking seems most popular. In the last two years, professional development for respondents has included: Conferences (89%) and Informal Networking (82%). Online webinars and workshops (81%) are also preferred. Face-to-face instruction (61%); blogs & publications (51%) and tools or kits (28%) were mentioned less often. [HART]
- Networking (20%) and General management/leadership skills (20%) were also considered the most beneficial kind of development with other topics ranging from 10-15%. [HART]
- Leading and Managing is of greatest interest to respondents with more than 10 years experience in philanthropy (52%). Those with less than 10 years experience also rate leading and managing high (50%), but they seek opportunities to learn grantmaking (57%) most of all. [HART]
- Less than 50% of all respondents say they have access to quality learning opportunities with the exception of those with more than 10 years experience who say they do have access to quality grantmaking learning opportunities (53%). For the same subject, only 32% of those with less than 10 years experience can say the same. [HART]
- In both surveys, respondents rely on “self-directed” to guide their development and training activities (75/72%). Affinity Groups (54/54%); National Associations (53/50%); Regional (49/37%) and Local Associations (48/33%) were also mentioned.
- The top preference for a field-wide grantmaker education system is that it include a digital library of downloadable tools and documents specific to learning needs (69%). A central catalog/list of online and offline offerings from multiple providers is the second most popular feature (65%). [HART]
- Less experienced staff are more interested in having a place to post questions and share information (53%). They also prefer 48% to 36% having a jobs board and a system for matching mentors and mentees (48% to 33%) compared to more experienced staff. [HART]
- Independent (32%) and Family (26%) make up half the respondents. Community (14%), Public (12%), Corporate (6%), Private (2%) make up the other half. [HART]. We had somewhat greater participation from Corporate (11% vs. 6%) and Community Foundations (17% vs. 11%) in the LearnPhilanthropy.net survey vs. the HART survey. 95% of those responding to HART and 93% to LP.net are paid staff.
- In the HART survey 53% of the respondents come from foundations with assets of less than $100 million vs. LP.net at 57%. In the HART survey 54% come from organizations with fewer than 11 paid staff and on LP.net it was similar with 55%.
- 44% of respondents are in grants management/administration roles and 39% are program officers or other program professionals. The next highest response came from CEOs (17%). [HART]
- 57% of those responding to the HART survey belong to an Affinity Group; 47% to COF; 47% to the Grant Managers Network; 38% to Regional Association of Grantmakers.
Find out more at LearnPhilanthropy.net. You can also follow the initiative on Twitter and Facebook.