By Julia Black, Audit Manager, Tri-Arrows Aluminum

I have to confess, when I first heard December’s NeXt meeting was on fundraising, I let out a silent sigh while having traumatic flashbacks of selling Girl Scout cookies and holiday canned popcorn.

But I’m happy to report, December’s NeXt session brought an entirely new view of fundraising to the table… beyond middle school holiday catalogues and canned popcorn sales.  Our line-up of speakers was legit, with each person bringing a unique perspective to the group.  This, coupled with an awesome volunteer opportunity, made this month’s meeting my favorite of the program thus far.

Several of our NEXT class arrived early to volunteer their time with Family Scholar House and The Petrino Family Foundation’s Mindfulness youth event.  The theme of the event was “Super Heroes have Super Minds” with numerous stations set up, each one addressing different forms of mindfulness for kiddos.  (Think yoga, art therapy, building blocks, and a jumpy house- because, I mean, why not?)

I was personally volunteering at one of the art therapy tables.  We gave each child a piece of paper with an outline of a body and asked them to draw their super power… If you could have any super power in the entire world, anything at all, what would it be?  Watching these kids think so far outside the box was incredibly inspiring.  There were no limits to their powers… the power to fly, super brain power, power of empathy, power of love, power to control the weather… you name it, they thought of it.  It was a good lesson for me as an adult… a reminder to think beyond the “box”… to stretch beyond my comfort zone.

Kelsey Petrino Scott (Executive Director of The Petrino Family Foundation) was able to join our NeXt meeting for a few minutes and shared some of the exciting ways The Petrino Family Foundation is making a difference.  They recently funded the new trauma room at the Norton Children’s Hospital, and are continuing to sponsor Courage Camp in the summers.

 ART IS FOR EVERYONE

We kicked off our formal meeting time with Mo McKnight Howe, founder and owner of the amazing Revelry Boutique in NuLu.  Mo’s vision for Revelry is to “make art accessible to everyone. If you love it, you should have it.”   I loved hearing her desire to squash the misconception of art only being for the rich and famous.  Art is for everyone.

Mo has used her partnership with Fund for the Arts and her position as a NeXt liaison on the Board to close the gap in the local art scene.   A huge part of this has been accomplished through the annual Awards in the Arts event.  Fund for the Arts, Churchill Downs and the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation partner together to make this event possible… making local art visible and available to everyone.  Be sure to mark your calendar for this year’s Awards in the Arts (April 28, 2018), it’s going to be a good night on the track!

TELL THE STORY

Our meeting continued as Courtney Glenny (Fund for the Arts, Manager of Corporate and Employee Engagement) talked through all things corporate-giving.  Just as each employee and corporation is unique and different, the way we approach giving should be unique and different.  I loved Courtney’s reminder to tell the story.

When people are giving, they want to know the why.  They want to know where their donations are going and how they will make a difference.  Donors often want to know how their funds will impact specific programs, the local community, the city.  When Courtney is engaging with employees and corporations, she makes it her goal to paint a bigger picture… to help each person understand how they can play a part.

TREAT EVERYONE LIKE A TOP-TIER DONOR

JP Davis (Fund for the Arts Senior VP) kept things rolling by getting into the nitty-gritty of fundraising.  JP shattered all my preconceived fundraising nightmares by walking through the relational side of fundraising. Legit fundraising is about so much more than the money… it’s about the people.

JP’s personal motto is to treat each and every person like a top-tier donor… regardless of the amount they donate, or if they donate at all.  I LOVE THIS CONCEPT.  Fund for the Arts has made it their priority to focus on the person, rather than the donation itself.  This mentality has allowed them to build long-term relationships with their community and city.  True fundraising takes time to listen, then proposes a solution.  When we make it a priority to treat everyone like a top-tier donor, we build lasting relationships that empower real change.

 KEEP SHOWING UP

Our Artist Spotlight for December’s meeting was none other than the 502 Kid himself, Graham Breitenstein.  Graham is a Louisville native, graduating from Male High School, and is known for his multiple performances with Lady Gaga.  He shared all things Louisville and LA, growth and Gaga, learning and leading.

I found it especially inspiring when Graham shared about his move to LA.  His first professional dance instructor (Kennis Marquis) initially told Graham “I can’t help you.”  But for Graham this was just fuel to the fire.  He kept showing up.  It wasn’t long before Kennis agreed to begin working with Graham.  It was this dedication and persistence that eventually turned Graham into one of the most talented and innovative dancers in the industry.  “As a creative artist, you have to create your work.”

Graham is now using his talents to inspire and teach others, both in LA and locally in Louisville.  Keep up with his whereabouts by following him on Instagram, You Tube, or Twitter.

We started wrapping things up as Jacque Brill (Fund for the Arts Board Member) shared about Farnsley by Forty and how the Farnsley Society is helping to shape and nurture a culture of giving for young professionals.  Morgan Eklund (Fund for the Arts Manager of Events & Volunteers) then took some time to lay out expectations for the NeXt Ambassadors’ upcoming mid-year presentations.  In January, each NeXtGen group will be providing an update on their team’s progress.  I for one am looking forward to being inspired and challenged by my fellow peers.

December’s meeting was a great endcap to a productive year for the NeXt Ambassadors.  Looking forward to all that 2018 holds!

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