Having the opportunity to work as the summer fellow for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is not one I took lightly. I chose to apply for this particular fellowship because of the opportunity it gave me to move around a whole organization and see more than just one side of the parts that help organizations function. The fellowship works through a rotation that allowed me to work with each respective team: Office of the President, Marketing and Communications, Community, Philanthropy and Capacity. Through these rotations, I was able to take this summer to work on so many important skills!
The number one skill that I honed was networking. As a fellow, I was always in a position to meet someone new. Thanks to the Foundation, I was given a lot of flexibility to go to different meetings and events which allowed me to not only learn how to effectively introduce myself, but also to practice putting myself into situations with people I didn’t know. This is a skill that I am incredibly happy to be leaving the foundation with.
By working at the Foundation, I have come to the complete and utter understanding that philanthropy is necessary and seemingly vital to each and every community. Of course, each community has different needs, and the results come from the varied ways philanthropy can work or progress in the community. But no matter what, there is not just one manner in which one can be philanthropic.
In recognizing this, I have also been reminded that being philanthropic through funding is not always the most effective way. We can all be philanthropists in the ways we choose, but we must recognize that in order for the dollars to be used in the most effective way, we must have people on the ground doing the work and ensuring that the community needs are met. In addition, it is important for those who choose to be philanthropic to understand why philanthropy is actually needed and to what extent.
An example would be not only providing funding for a child that is hungry, but going beyond that to understand what has caused the hunger – and attempting to meet that need as well – which provides a multi-faceted approach. Through this understanding, I found that there is so much value in long term philanthropy, especially when you find you are passionate about solving a long-term problem.
Jazondré Gibbs was the Summer Fellow for 2016 under the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. She is an Atlanta Posse Scholar and is a sophomore at Bard College, studying Anthropology with a concentration in Latin American Studies. She hopes that one day she will be able to work with nonprofits within community engagement.