By David Chilton
Special to the Toronto Sun
Georgian College's Fundraising and Resource Development program went entirely online May 2. That means there's no reason why anyone working in fundraising can't take one course a semester and learn to do a better job, says Christopher Vander Kruys.
Program co-ordinator at Georgian College
Vander Kruys, manager of resource development for the Simcoe County Association for the Physically Disabled and a 2002 graduate of the program when it was taught in class and online, has nothing but praise for Georgian's move to Internet delivery.
"It's fantastic," says Vander Kruys from his office in Barrie, recalling that he completed one of his projects with a fellow student in British Columbia entirely online, never meeting his partner in person.
The fundraising program at the Barrie college began in 1998 in response to a shortage of trained fundraisers and was taught entirely in class. Since then it has evolved, concluding in 2003-2004 as hybrid of in class and online instruction.
Lydia Crawford, program co-ordinator at Georgian, says student demand for part-time study drove the move to an entirely online format. Now, students can begin their studies at the start of the college's summer, fall or winter semesters. The program's fall start date is September 6, with the winter session pegged for early January 2006.
Georgian's virtual classroom will take a maximum of 30 students, Crawford says. To enrol in the program students need either a college diploma or a university degree, she continues. Crawford puts the average age of her students at 35 to 40, although the program attracts some people directly from university. The program is overwhelmingly comprised of women.
Students considered part time -- taking one to three courses -- pay by the course. Those enrolled in four to six courses pay the tuition tab of $4,300 upfront.
It should take two to three years to complete the program studying part time, says Crawford, and students can expect to take courses such as Introduction to Philanthropy, Human Dimensions in Fundraising, Grant and Proposal Writing and so on.
They also have to complete an eight-week, generally unpaid internship -- usually in their home
region as long as it meets the college's requirements -- before they graduate. Crawford says students have interned at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the AIDS Committee of Toronto, Amnesty International and elsewhere.
Once they've graduated, Crawford's students can enjoy employment rates of up to 95%.
The Georgian fundraising program is taught entirely online.
Students can enrol for the summer, fall or winter semesters.
The program is overwhelmingly comprised of women.
Starting salaries in the Toronto area can be as high as $50,000.
Students must have college diploma or university degree to enrol.
"The job market is fabulous," Crawford says. "In southern Ontario there is a huge market still for fundraisers."
An Association of Fundraising Professionals survey in 2003 found the average practitioner's salary was $72,000. Crawford says in southern Ontario starting pay kicks off at $40,000 to $50,000 a year. "The people who are getting jobs are getting great jobs," she says.
Lorie Scratch enrolled in the fundraising program last September and she, like Vander Kruys, is full of praise for what she's learned. "It was hard work, there's no doubt about it," says Scratch from Barrie. "And online learning was overwhelming at first, but there's lots of support."
Scratch, a Canadian, enrolled in the program because she had worked in fundraising in the U.S. and when she returned home she wanted to add education to her practical experience. An exceptional side benefit of taking the course has been her improved self-confidence, she says.
Fundraising is sales, says Vander Kruys, a trained chef and once the owner with his wife of three Country Style Donut franchises. "It's a lot like selling coffee only I'm asking for more money."
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