Faculty Spotlight: Guiamar F. Hiegert, CFRE
What led you to become part of the faculty in the New Designs for Fundraising program?
Since moving from Los Angeles in 1991 to Northern California, I have become passionate about providing education to the smaller nonprofits that are prevalent in low-income or rural areas, and in smaller towns.
These are the real heroes of our nonprofit world — with little or no budget, and few if any staff, these nonprofits meet basic needs with few resources. Training is rarely available and the majority of programs are out of these groups’ price range.
I was a consultant at the time, and privileged to be part of one of the first international fundraising training programs. After years of serving as lead faculty, I decided to offer a free course at our local community foundation. I wanted to “give back” to my community.
After a year, and over 20 graduates of the program, we decided to do the class one more time, and went to meet with Cal Poly Humboldt to ask if they might provide college credits. Instead, Extended Education decided to bring us in “under their wing.” That was approximately seven years ago.
I first taught an in-person class to test the materials. Then I spent a summer developing a comprehensive textbook (we call it the “Workbook”) and online training program with the help of the Humboldt technical staff.
When completed, we had New Designs for Fundraising — one of the few completely on-line programs available. With wonderful faculty who have come from the surrounding area — and now with faculty from other parts of the country — we have a strong training program of which I am proud to have helped start.
What can you tell us about the students in the New Designs for Fundraising program?
It is an interesting mix! We started with local students from small nonprofits, many of them volunteers. Then we expanded to students nationwide, since the program is fully online.
The program is nationally recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (CFRE). To receive “CFRE” next to your name (which is highly-prized in many areas), members are required to have continuing education credits.
Since the New Designs for Fundraising program is online — in addition to students from organizations with little or no budgets and little experience, we also have students with tons of experience from major nonprofit organizations across the U.S. This creates an awesome mix of people in the class.
Many students have commented that they felt empowered by the feedback from these experienced students — who acted almost as consultants while they earned their continuing education credits.
These experienced students also enjoyed the course, and we consistently earned high marks from them.
How have you seen students’ lives impacted by completion of the New Designs for Fundraising program?
One of our first students was a woman on welfare with major issues, trying to raise her children and find a career. She has started her own nonprofit foundation to help other women who shared her plight. I just heard from her, and she is enjoying a trip to Europe. From poverty to travel — seven years later.
I occasionally hear from others — all have stayed in the field, which in itself is a testimony to our good training. The average fundraising professional who starts with a nonprofit organization leaves after two years.
What have you learned from the students in the New Designs for Fundraising program?
Humility. Never assume you know everything. Assume that others know more than you do. Be patient and kind, and serve as an example to others.