New Voice-Allyson Reaves

New Voices of Philanthropy is always looking for new writers to share their perspectives of philanthropy on this blog. Allyson Reaves is one of those new voices. Allyson is currently in Italy doing an amazing philanthropy fellowship and I wanted her to share how she got connected to that experience and any other advice that she would have for people trying to break into the field of philanthropy or advance in the field. This will be a three part series from Allyson that will be running for three Mondays. Enjoy! From Allyson:

Your invitation’s in the Mail!

I always slightly tilt my head when I hear a practitioner in philanthropy say ever so nonchalantly, ‘Oh I just fell into the field…..’

Fell? Really? You just fell into the field? Hmmmmm………..Seems like I’ve been trying to knock…knock down the door of entry to the field for a while now….and you just fell….like you didn’t mean to??!?!?!!?!?

It wasn’t until I asked (quite frankly) a very insightful practitioner how I might professionally advance in a field chock-full of leading professionals who keep a tight grip on their leather executive seats for years. No….decades.

So after I asked Mr. Advancemeplease how young folks can direct their efforts to climbing up this ladder while still committing themselves to participating in solutions that address the

social justice, environmental,
arts and culture, education,
health and research, capacity building,
community development issues
of YESTERDAY while planning
-strategically and transparently-
the global civil society of TOMORROW,

he responded very succinctly with 3 ideas of how to move forward…..

1) Start at the bottom and work your way up.
Me: Sounds doable to go after an entry level job.…but everybody in my foundation is comfortable in their seats and probably won’t be retiring or moving any time soon….and I’m ready for a promotion!!! This won’t work for me right now.
2) Come in as a consultant…and if all the right opportunities line up, you may possibly be invited to join the team if a vacancy (or a short term grant to underwrite your salary) opens your door of civil service.
Me: Hmmmm…I’ve got college loans out the yin yang…and I need insurance…and a stable paycheck! This won’t work either.
3) Be invited as an expert in a specialized area.
Me: Does that mean I have to have a Ph.D. in something like International Capacity Building with a Concentration in American Diplomacy?
‘No, ladybug,’ Mr. Advancemeplease replied. ‘You’ve got to get some experience-intense experience-under your belt.
ME: Hmmm…well I want to be involved in International Philanthropy…I’ve got the philanthropy part…now I just need to break into the international side. Now how do I get intense INTERNATIONAL experience in South Carolina??????????????

Today’s Question for you: What’s your step-by-step advice on advancing in the field of philanthropy?

You can read more from Allyson at her blog. Next week from Allyson………..Fellowships and Other Ideas of Getting Experience Under your Belt