Three Lessons Learned at Community Foundation Boot Camp

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Community Foundation Boot Camp presented by SECF and the Florida Philanthropic Network. As a practitioner transitioning from the world of private philanthropy to the world of community foundations, nothing could’ve been more timely. A training that summarizes the history of the field, gets me acquainted with the “art” of grantmaking, and expands my network to 40 new colleagues in the span of two days – sign me up, please! The training was also made worthwhile by a faculty that represented some of the most respected and experienced professionals in the field.

I’ll share three quick things I learned during my experience at Boot Camp:

Lesson 1 – Boot Camp really means Boot Camp

Like any good survey course you might take in college, this training really took our cohort through a substantial amount of content while emphasizing only the key things we needed to know. From a syllabus perspective, our units spanned governance, investments and everything in between. The fast-paced nature of the training kept us engaged and on our toes and truly maximized our two days together.

Lesson 2 – Learning from One Another

Because our group represented such a diverse footprint of communities and roles – professionals coming from places as far north as Virginia and as westerly as Arkansas – there were interesting questions from participants that reflected the unique needs of their communities. Our instructors used those questions as teachable moments, showing us how each foundation might evolve to serve its community in ways that might be different from your own. They encouraged us as participants to continue learning more about one another’s context so we could see how the shared principles we were learning now might play out in different ways throughout the course of our careers in our respective regions.

Lesson 3 – Community Leadership and Respect for Our Grantees

From the beginning of boot camp to the end, a strong emphasis was placed on our role as stewards who ethically and professionally operate from a place of humility. To quote our instructor Rosemary Dorsa, borrowing from Ken Gladish (previously with Central Indiana Community Foundation), “We are all just temporary stewards of an extraordinary community asset.” These words deeply resonated with me as well as others who recently joined the profession as newly minted grantmakers only six weeks prior.

In this regard, our work truly sits at the intersection of putting donor’s resources to work for the good of the community while truly partnering with our grantees on the front lines – a lesson well taught by our instructors. Any person new to world of community foundations would be wise to gear up and go to boot camp. I’m glad I did.

Emmanuel Fortune is a program director for The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.


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