Hear from Dave Kenny – MA Philanthropic Studies student

Dave KennyWhat attracted you to the programme?

I entered the nonprofit sector after 15 years in the corporate sector. I spent 3 years in an executive role with a charity and realized very quickly that I needed to level up my sector specific knowledge. While all of my corporate skills were transferable, my applications of those skills often missed the mark due to a lack of understanding of the nonprofit sector in general, and volunteer/cause motivated organizations. I needed a re-orientation that would also simultaneously secure me some credentials.

I was also attracted by this program being entirely online, part time and asynchronous. That is the absolute trifecta of what I needed as neither my family nor career could ramp down while I was ramping up. Being able to study at the time that suits me is the most important given that I live in a North American time zone.

Which areas of study did you find particularly inspiring?

The concept of a ‘Culture of Philanthropy’ was the single unifying concept that makes sense of the entire enterprise and helped me appreciate that fundraising is not a necessary evil in order to ‘get after the real mission’, rather the act of giving itself is instrumental in the transformation of peoples ‘hearts and minds. In this sense fundraising doesn’t enable the mission – fundraising IS the mission.

What sort of support is there for postgraduate students?

The support is generous, even for North American students in a different time zone. I made particular use of the Student Learning and Advisory Service, with many skill development modules being made available on-demand, and they also helped bridge the gap between the higher level learning pedagogy and desired learning outcomes that are different in the UK than in North America.

How do you find work-life balance with part-time study?

The only strain occurred during the seasonal peak fundraising season (November and December).

How is your course helping you in shaping your career?

First, it has broadened my mind and my vocabulary. Truly my competence has risen and I am now sensitive to matters that I previously saw as unimportant

Second, the degree is unique. An M.A. in Philanthropic Studies built on top of a B.A. in whichever field you happen to specialize in makes for a potent combination, both in practice and on a resume

Third, it has adequately developed both my skill set and vision to pursue a doctoral degree if I so choose.

How has this course changed you?

I think I judge more clearly, I sequence and order priorities with greater effectiveness, and my decision-making skills are more sound.

What are your plans for the future?

My next area of study will be nonprofit organizational leadership.

Any advice for prospective students?

Pick a lane and stay in it. I dabbled across three or four different cause areas and foci making my research and reading quite inefficient. Also, deploy the full powers of your word processor for better research and tracking. Both SLAS and your tutors will point you in the right direction.

Prepare yourself for “two reads” on any assignment. Broad and fast on the first read with very little note taking then dig in deep because the real learning comes from the reading.

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