Brian McFarlane says the trick to fundraising is simple. The hardest
part of raising money is getting over asking for it, he said.
McFarlane is working in Tennessee, thanks to Concordias Fundraising
for Change Internship Program, which helps young activists of colour learn
hands-on about the fundraising necessary to keep community organizations
The program began about two years ago as part of the Institute in Management
and Community Development run through Concordias Continuing Education.
McFarlane is the third person taking part in the pilot project of internships
at American non-profit organizations. Two other interns worked in Denver
Mireille Landry is coordinator of the Internships in Fundraising for Social
Change and the Summer Program at the Institute in Management and Community
Development. The Institute hosts a week of training every summer for people
at community organizations who focus on community development. Each year,
about 1,200 people from across Canada, the US and abroad converge on the
Loyola campus for the sessions.
Its a chance for people with common interests in developing
communities to take a step back, an opportunity for reflection, training
and networking, Landry said.
The internship program was inspired by Kim Klein, a well-known fundraiser
who has participated in the Summer Program for six years. She started
as an intern, and she realized through her experience that she could do
One of the internship programs goals is to promote leadership among
young adults. We know its sometimes difficult for young people
to find good jobs in community organizations, Landry explained.
Usually, they do projects rather than steady work, and theyre the
first ones out when theres a financial crunch. This can make it
difficult to build expertise. The program aims to bridge the gap between
organizations looking for qualified workers and people trying to gain
Each of the interns had experience working with similar organizations
to the ones where they were placed. McFarlane, the most recent intern
to become involved with the program, has been working in Tennessee since
September, and returns to Montreal in a few weeks. When he applied for
the program, he worked at Santropol Roulant, a Montreal service that has
youth volunteers delivers hot meals to older people in their homes.
McFarlane is placed at Community Shares, an umbrella organization of 40
groups working on policies for environmental protection, including activist
lobby groups. They are groups the United Way [Centraide] doesnt
fund, McFarlane explained in a phone conversation from Tennessee.
McFarlane is doing donor-based fundraising, which is the key to organizations
maintaining their autonomy. Hes writing fundraising letters and
learning about workplace campaigns, where people are encouraged to donate
part of their paycheque at source.
We have about 100 different campaigns running right now, at universities,
city offices and private businesses, he said. Developing confidence
is the biggest challenge to any fundraiser. Fundraising is not the
most glamorous work, but its essential.
Working within an organization for an extended period of time has helped
McFarlane learn the intricacies of the fundraising business. Ive
learned about the infrastructure of a successful organization, he
said. Behind the scenes, the details of appeals, processing donations
and sending out thank-you notes have to be ironed out. You really
need everything in place for things to work.
McFarlane graduated from McGill with an anthropology degree in 1995, and
worked at restaurants in Montreal until he got involved with Santropol
I knew some people there, and I wanted to do something different,
he said. I didnt know anything about fundraising before I
started working at Santropol, so that made it an exciting opportunity,
Landry says there are plans in the works to expand the program. For the
next round of internships, the Institute will ask organizations to recommend
potential interns. The Institute is going to focus on placing interns
in Ontario and BC.
Landry wants to develop a Canadian network of organizations fundraising
for social change, so that groups across the country may learn from each