As we prepare for our 2012 New Grantmakers Institute (NGI), NCG’s signature professional development program, we’ve decided to use our blog to feature an interview series with staff and past NGI participants.
The purpose of this interview series is to provide the grantmaking community with a better understanding of what NGI is all about and how it has benefited the grantmaking practice of those who’ve attended.
NCG Program Specialist Angela Jones
The first interview in our series is with NCG Program Specialist Angela Jones who coordinates the New Grantmakers Institute.
NCG: Angela, let’s start with some basic background information. How does NGI fits into NCG’s history and mission of providing educational opportunities for grantmakers?
Angela: NCG has a long history of grantmaker education. Back in the mid-60s when NCG was an informal lunchtime gathering of grantmakers, the purpose of those meetings was for grantmakers to connect with their peers, to share best practices and learn through networking.
After becoming incorporated as a regional association of grantmakers that tradition of gathering to share knowledge with one another continued. Today, NCG offers over 40 educational programs and skill-building workshops like the New Grantmakers Institute.
NCG is committed to advancing professional development as a core value of regional philanthropy because we believe that professional development is of inherent value to individuals, the institutions that employ them and the general philanthropic sector. Foundation investment in professional development strengthens overall organizational effectiveness including the ability to further our individual and collective missions. As a critical ingredient for organizational effectiveness, professional development demands special attention.
We are also committed to providing access or referrals to a diverse array of professional development opportunities to meet our members at every stage in their careers. Many of the ideas for skill-building workshops that NCG hosts are generated by members of NCG’s Organizational and Effectiveness and Professional Development committee, which are comprised of a diverse representation of NCG’s membership. Our approach to professional development can be characterized as follows: providing professionals with the basics of effective grantmaking practice and nuances of effective engagement while encouraging a culture of learning, healthy curiosity and reflection.
Although NCG for many years offered an orientation for new grantmakers, the New Grantmakers Institute (NGI), which we piloted in 2006, is based on the nationally development curriculum: Essential Skills & Strategies. The Essential Skills & Strategies curriculum was originally developed by a committee of grantmakers and regional associations from across the country under the auspices of the Forum of Regional Grantmakers and the Council on Foundations. The structured curriculum was developed to teach new grantmakers as they enter the field. Prior to this, each regional was doing its own thing when it came to new grantmaker training. So similar to the Common Grant Application, the curriculum is an attempt to standardize what grantmakers learn as they enter the profession.
NCG: How has NCG supplemented the original Essential Skills & Strategies curriculum?
Angela: First, we’ve added a module on reading financial statements because members were consistently requesting this type of instruction. Second, this year we’re adding a new module on social media and philanthropy which will be lead by local experts in grantmaker use of technology.
Lastly, we’ve enhanced the personal strategies module because we find that grantmakers really want to know the personal story of seasoned grantmakers. So we’ve given NGI faculty more liberty to go off curriculum so they can weave their own stories into the workshop.
NCG: What are “modules”?
Angela: A module is simply just a course subject, “lecture” or an independent self-contained unit within the entire curriculum. Although there are 7 individual modules of Essential Skills & Strategies, they all have a “lecture” component, interactive learning and post-program resources for each one.
NCG: Who exactly are the faculty that participates in NGI?
Angela: From year to year our NGI faculty has changed, but we try to draw from our membership those members who have either Emeritus status in the field, those who are prominent leaders that new grantmakers normally don’t have access to and those who are actively engaged in the work.
This year we are excited to be working with a new lead facilitator, Jara Dean-Coffey, who has previously worked closely with NCG staff facilitating retreats and staff development. One great thing about Jara is that she always provides lots of fun meeting props to relieve stress and inspire creativity.
NCG: You’ve shepherded a good number of NGI classes. Have there been any consistent responses from grantmakers as to the biggest takeaway they got from participating?
Angela: Past participants have all consistently said they got a lot out of the program and believe it or not they want to go deeper. And they were excited that NGI provided them with the opportunity to make connections with their peers in the field.
NCG: A lot of people don’t know what to expect when it comes to the format of the days. Please give us a quick run down of what an NGI participant will experience.
Angela: Let’s just say it’s very intense, yet fun! We pack a lot of information into both days. However, we do provide post-program online resources for participants so they can review them at their own pace.
Throughout the day there are a variety of speakers that teach the various modules and for each module there is usually an activity that goes along with it.
NCG: Finally, who do you think should come to NGI and why?
Angela: I usually tell people that NGI is for anyone who is new to philanthropy, and that can mean anyone with less than two years of experience, or anyone who is interested in refreshing their grantmaking skills.
Why come? Participants will get a comprehensive overview and framework of the many aspects of grantmaking that you literally can’t get anywhere else–not even on the job training will provide a grantmaker with the skills they can learn quickly at NGI.
NCG’s New Grantmakers Institute is April 18 & 19. Learn more about the two-day institute and how to register online >>