Elijah Brown: Nonprofits Need Business Skills Too!
Working as an Advancement Intern at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School, I’ve had the opportunity to be around faculty who apply their unique skill sets to help the organization work towards its mission of empowering students from underserved communities. Cristo Rey has also been my first exposure to the day-to-day operations of non-profit work. As my time has progressed with the school, my understanding of the business skills and expertise needed to support non-profit work has developed dramatically.
In the Advancement Department at Cristo Rey, I've seen firsthand how my coworkers leverage their unique mixtures of business and people-skills to steer the department towards its objectives. The primary responsibility of Advancement is to facilitate donations through the development of fundraising events and campaigns. Therefore, I wasn't completely shocked to see business programs like Excel used to manage department data and marketing principles utilized regularly in our department meetings. However, what surprised me most about working in Advancement is how strongly people skills are relied on within the team’s communications and fundraising initiatives.
In our Advancement team, the group’s forward-thinking dynamic and ability to communicate effectively with each other has a lot to do with the strong people and team-building skills exhibited by our supervisors. I know that my smooth transition into working at Cristo Rey is due to the level of comfort and familiarity that I immediately felt when starting with my team. People skills are also critical to the fundraising events and campaigns that we develop in the Advancement Department. All of my supervisors have backgrounds and networks in the Bay Area and rely on their extensive knowledge of individuals, families, and companies to secure donations for the organization.
Before working at Cristo Rey, my understanding of the formal and informal business skills required to operate a non-profit organization was rudimentary. However, after gaining the opportunities to learn and grow at the organization, I understand that non-profits rely as much, if not more, on these types of skills to operate than traditional for-profit institutions. Overall, I feel myself growing in my perspectives and professionalism and am excited to continue to work at Cristo Rey.