Today I was the guest lecturer at an Emory undergraduate course on Non-Profit Marketing. Yes, I do feel important and wise. And I got a free bottle of water and a parking token in exchange for my genius. (Parking at Emory is hard to come by, so a parking token speaks quite highly of my importance.) The class is actually pretty cool in that the professor works with a number of different non-profit agencies each year and has the students work as “consultants” on a marketing problem faced by the organization. I met with my group earlier in the semester to pitch our problem to them and now serve as a mentor to them as they work on their project. A representative from each of the agencies comes in and teaches a class, and then at the end of the semester all of the students give a presentation to the non-profits and advise us on our project.
My suggested talking points were:
- Organizational Overview (mission, history, initiatives, programs)
- Staffing/Board Structure
- Sources of Revenue
- Business Challenges
- Success Measures
- Data Collection
- Personal Career Path
With about an hour to speak, I obviously couldn’t cover everything and wasn’t expected to, but I looked at their syllabus and tried to cover the points that were the most relevant to what they are studying and what they need to know for their final projects and paper.
I first started with the personal career path part though, and told them that when I was sitting on their side of the classroom I wished I had someone speaking to me about what they did everyday in their real jobs. I think that Non-Profits are still a vague entity to them, and most people, so I hope it was useful to hear what kinds of things you actually do if you work for a non-profit. Then I shared with them how I was a Chemistry major for a really really long time and then learned it was ok to change my mind because something else stirred my mind and my passions. I shared with them that along my long and tangled path towards gainful (yet poorly paid) employment I had some great teachers and mentors who taught me that vocation is different from occupation. I said that your life is more than the sum of your income. Yes, I said that to a bunch of business students. I quoted Parker Palmer and his tiny but profound book Let Your Life Speak in which he defines vocation as the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need. Then I bored them with a Powerpoint. But I promise I didn’t read the slides to them.
I always start any talks about my work with “Who is a Refugee?,” simply because I was guilty of living in Atlanta for more than 5 years and not knowing the difference between refugees and immigrants or knowing exactly why there are quite so many foreign people at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market. I always have to tell people that our government, along with many other governments around the world, invites refugees to come life here after escaping really terrible, unimaginable things in their home country. They are legal immigrants. They arrive here with work authorization and great hope for a better future. They also get handed a bill for the cost of their airfare here pretty much as soon as they land, so the whole system is set up with the idea that they will become self-sufficient and not be a drain on the community. And did I mention that our clients are legal immigrants? Our newest neighbors need a lot of help, and are having a really tough time–worse than previous refugee groups–in adjusting to life in the U.S. The economy also sucks, in case you haven’t heard, and is hurting our clients, and our agency, a lot. So, yeah, I guess I probably wasn’t able to convinced them that a career in the non-profit sector is a great idea after all.
The rest of the presentation probably isn’t exciting to most people, but since it is actually a business class, I talked about unrestricted versus restricted cash flow, revenue sources and I also had pretty bar graphs and a pie chart.
Nobody fell asleep. And did I mention I got free parking?
I think the formatting might end up being a bit off in the transfer to the web, but behold, through the magic of Google Docs.