The Importance of ‘Real-Time’ Education
I was fortunate enough to participate in a session of meetings with national community relations/development leaders of The Salvation Army at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University last week. The Salvation Army was meeting with Lilly representatives to discuss a number of issues, including plans for their involvement with a 2018 National Community Relations/Development Conference in Indianapolis, Ind.
I kept thinking how blessed we were to have this asset in Indianapolis. I also flashed back to a time in the 1970s when I served as a graduate assistant at the Marshall University Graduate College. One of my many tasks was to evaluate student transcripts to see which credits could be transferred when accepting students. It occurred to me then, as it does now, that education gained diminishes over time without proper renewal.
In Harvard Business Review’s article titled “Be Forewarned: Your Knowledge is Decaying,” it’s noted that information and facts are changing around us at an amazing pace and that our knowledge is in a state of constant flux—it’s a lot like radioactive atoms because it decays over time.
Because knowledge changes, many decisions are made based upon out-of-date facts or assumptions. We need to constantly reeducate ourselves, avoid memorization and start looking up facts to make sure we have the most updated knowledge. Arbesman stresses that we need to incorporate an informational humility into our lives or we will be stuck selling buggy whips to car owners.
Is it important for nonprofit professionals to have professional development to enhance educational opportunities and keep education current? It certainly is according to this article. The author points out that job roles are constantly changing and new challenges are arising in the workplace.
“Professional development is a great tool to combat these issues and allows individuals to continue to thrive within their organization,” the article said. “People working in the nonprofit sector need more training opportunities in various areas, such as marketing, public relations, fundraising, strategic planning, board development, grant writing, leadership/management techniques, etc.”
In an article titled “Advancing Your Nonprofit Career Through Continuing Education,” it notes that graduate degrees can provide nonprofit job seekers with a leg up in their careers. A post-bachelor’s education provides an opportunity to establish professional contacts, experience an internship and increase knowledge about a specialized function or field within the nonprofit sector.
The decision to invest in a graduate or continuing education is an important one. When deciding to pursue additional education, ask yourself the following questions, according to the article:
- What educational credentials are required in my field or career of interest?
- How will a specific degree or certification help me achieve my career goal?
- Are there comparable ways to earn the same training and knowledge available through a graduate or continuing education program?
- Will a specific degree or certificate make me more of an attractive candidate to nonprofits?
- Will I be able to manage the expense and potential debt resulting from a graduate or continuing education program?
- Does the time required to continue my education fit with my current or desired lifestyle?
In today’s world, there are many ways to gain additional education whether it is for a degree or continuing education. To obtain a Master’s degree in philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Family, for example, you can obtain a Master’s degree either through online classes, executive classes at various sites or at an on-campus site. Graduate assistantships are available, plus fellowships and scholarships. The quality of instruction is outstanding and blends PhD-level instructors with adjunct professors that are amazingly successful in their field.
Through the fundraising school via the Lilly Family School of Philanthropic Studies, you can also receive a wide variety of continuing educational opportunities. Courses are held on an ongoing basis at various nationwide locations. Examples of topics offered span a wide array of fields of study such as annual giving, major gifts, planned gifts, capital campaigns, marketing, grant writing and digital fundraising. This school is the world’s oldest and largest school of philanthropy.
In summary, there are currently 1.6 million nonprofits representing 13.7 million employees in the field. This is 10 percent of the U. S. Labor Force. Americans are pushing the $400 billion mark in giving. The nonprofit arena is large and growing. To succeed in this field long term, you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree with an annual educational plan to obtain additional continuing education credits. Do not let your knowledge base decay over time. Real-time education can provide you with the edge to the next and better paying job or just prepare you to have the intellectual capability to constantly improve your job performance. Information continues to change at amazing speed. Make sure you are aware of this phenomenon and be prepared to constantly address it!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last nine years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 25 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years. He received his doctorate from West Virginia University with an emphasis in philanthropy, masters from Marshall University with an emphasis on resource development and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with emphasis in marketing/management. Currently he is executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.