Having been accepted into the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program on the assumption of a commitment to helping underserved communities, I realize it was only a matter of time before I was asked to evaluate my giving goals. Quite frankly, before being assigned this task, I had essentially no giving goals. I thought I would continue going through life with the vague goal of “doing good”. After some reflection, I have now come up with some long and short term goals with regards to giving.
My short term goals which I hope to achieve within the next 18 months, are primarily goals relating to my work with Scholars For Progress. Scholars For Progress, or S4P, is an organization created by FDDS that pairs a high school sophomore with a college sophomore in order to prepare high school students for entrance into college. I have been assigned as budget specialist of this budding organization. Being that this position was assigned, I did not have the opportunity to consider where I would be most useful based on my past experiences as Arrillaga-Andreesen suggests. My greatest fear at the moment is that my inexperience in this area will hinder our ability to carry out our purpose of helping high school students get into college. That being said, Arrillaga-Andreesen has a strong emphasis on the personal benefits of giving. I hope that my position in S4P will be a valuable opportunity to learn about finance. Thus I have come up with the following short term goals.
- To create a reasonable budget
- To have established myself as an S4P mentor.
- To establish a stable fundraising/ donation base
- To do an alternative break or some sort of summer charity project
I face several barriers in achieving these goals, the most challenging being my lack of understanding of how giving works. I may say that I want to establish a reasonable budget but I have no idea what a reasonable budget is. I have no idea how to establish a fundraising base nor how much to expect from donors. I am even unsure of what is done on an alternative break. Essentially, all of my goals are still vague and undefined. Another obstacle I face is my lack of experience. I have never had to manage a budget that was more than $600. I do not know where to begin creating a budget or finding donors. Finding donors poses another problem because it requires me to ask people for money. I am terrified of asking people for anything, particularly money. I am not certain I will be able to articulate the organization’s goals in a manner that will encourage others to donate money and time to the cause.
In order to overcome these obstacles, I have come up with two general strategies. The first strategy is to write everything down. I will write down my short term goals so that they are always visible. Writing my goals down will encourage me to make plans to achieve them. I will create excessive lists so that I am constantly thinking about how to accomplish my goals. My second strategy is to utilize my master mind group as much as possible. My mastermind group, mainly the accountants in my family, will help me to overcome my inexperience and fulfill my accounting duties for Scholars For Progress. With their help, I will learn to manage the budget adequately on my own. My mastermind group will also help me overcome my timidity when approaching potential donors. If needed, I will bring a member of Scholars for Progress with me when speaking with potential donors so that I am not solely responsible for the success or failure of the encounter. These two overarching strategies will help me with the problems I have already identified as well as those which I have not foreseen.
I have also been tasked with establishing long term giving goals. My long term goals are noticeable vaguer than my short term goals and much more idealistic because they are more dreams then concrete goals and are subject to change or refinement at any time. The goals are as follows.
- To guide a student to entrance into college
- To set up a durable infrastructure for S4P
- To find a continuous volunteer position
- To do pro bono legal advising
- To establish a theatre workshop program for developing self confidence in children
I have not listed the potential barriers to success because these goals are so far into the future that I am unsure of what the obstacles will be. I hope that the completion of my short term goals will shape me in such a way that many of my previously mentioned issues will no longer be relevant. Furthermore, the strategies of writing things down and using my mastermind group are applicable to the obstacles I may encounter in the future.
Finally, I cannot overlook the many resources made available to by my status as a student at American University. I fully intend to make use of the AU alumni network and networking events hosted by AU in order to help my various causes. I also plan to use the career center in order to make myself seem more professional and to better appeal to potential donors and others that I may work with. I will use the Center for Community Service and Engagement to keep up to date with all of the organizations needing volunteers for short and long term positions.
Using these strategies and the resources available to me, I believe I will be able to devote my time and energy to bettering the world around me. I hope that the time I devote to giving will make up for my lack of experience and create an experience that benefits both my community and myself by teaching me lifelong skills. I hope to establish practices now that will become habitual and become a foundation for me to lead a life devoted to giving in the future.