Edgar Wang ’16, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

Edgar-WangI was fortunate enough to find a Princeternship through Career Services in the nonprofit sector with the Ann Arbor Community Foundation. I was specifically interested in the Ann Arbor Community Foundation to better understand the grant allocation process and its role within the community. I wasn’t disappointed as the experience was loaded with new information; I learned far more about the intricacies, nuances, and functioning of a nonprofit community foundation than I had expected.

The day started with our host, Stephanie Freeth ’97, explaining the different types of endowment and differentiating between categories such as unrestricted and donor advised. Stephanie earned an MBA from Kellogg and had a wide variety of experiences, ranging from startups to her current nonprofit role, and her expertise shined in the explanations she gave us. She utilized a diagram to demonstrate the process of fundraising from identifying the donors to cultivating the relationship and then transitioned into using a pyramid as a visual aid to show the relationships between the various types of giving.

We then had the opportunity to speak with Jillian, who talked about her role in dealing with donors and fundraising. Before lunch, we sat in on a quick meeting with Stephanie and Cheryl the CEO of the foundation, and she shared a bit about the Youth Foundation, a group of youths that managed their own separate funds, and how it could really affect the lives of those who worked through it.

Lunch was a welcome break from the fast-paced morning; we ate at Zingerman’s, a local restaurant that made a killer pork pot pie. We talked with Stephanie about Princeton and had a nice conversation about whatever topics surfaced.
In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to go over the online and social media presence with Sue and Cheryl. The foundation was debating over whether to expand its media presence in order to increase its visibility (which would require more resources) or instead to focus its efforts on individual donors who gave more (and tended to make more of an impact than a multitude of smaller donors). We went over the website, social media, and info pamphlets and had the opportunity to throw in our input, ranging from whether we liked a pamphlet’s color scheme to how best to capture a website viewer’s attention.

At the day’s end, Neel, the COO, shared a talk about how you should really pursue something you enjoy and question why you’re doing something. For if you seek out what society has conditioned you to, if you go down the path that you think you should go down without ever wondering why, you aren’t going to find what you truly enjoy doing. It was a thoughtful comment to top off the day’s thoughts. The Princeternship was a wonderful experience, and I’m extremely grateful to Princeton, Career Services, and especially Stephanie for taking the time to accommodate us and share her knowledge.