Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Executive Summary: CCFA Internship
PSIP Program: CCFA Internship
This summer, I worked as an intern at the The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) for eight weeks. The CCFA is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness, providing support groups, and funding research for a cure for those suffering from Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. During my time at this organization, I hoped to apply the business skills I had acquired from previous work and school experience, as well as learn more about the most effective methods non-profits use to function and succeed.
The Internship Experience: Tasks and Skills Utilized
My internship at CCFA involved the use of my organizational, computer, and marketing skills. I utilized these skills by performing the following tasks for the organization:
I had the opportunity to practice my marketing skills in the form of writing, such as creating short descriptions of the race for various flyers and computer advertisements. I also utilized my verbal marketing skills in several ways. While at the gym, for example, I had to determine what phrases attracted each person to the table, and how to persuade them to support our cause. Later on, I would have to employ those skills again when I called the leads on the phone and asked them to RSVP for an upcoming Team Challenge Information Meeting. Finally, when passing out brochures to different stores, I had to persuade the vendors to help CCFA by allowing us to put up our flyers in their store; in this instance, I was using marketing techniques to spur further marketing.
My organizational skills were frequently employed when adding people to the CCFA intranet database and determining whom to contact and which methods to use. I was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to do “fun” organizing tasks, such as figuring out which runners needed different items for their goody bags or race envelopes, and working on snack tables for runners after the Napa-to-Sonoma half-marathon.
As is the case in many jobs, the computer played an integral role in my work at the CCFA. As previously stated, I often used the online database to keep track of recruitment leads, as well as to place ads. I often had to use Microsoft Word to update different race materials so that the information included the current race details. I often utilized Excel for different recording purposes, and also learned how to personalize mass letter mailings and labels through word “merging” tools.
Lessons Learned at CCFA:
My time at CCFA taught me the following lessons about the non-profit world:
- It is important for an organization to keep careful records of all of their clients (both existing and potential), and their interactions with them, in order to meet their goals efficiently and effectively.
- Money management is also important in the non-profit world. One must make the most of what she has, and make sure to take note of all that she is using. At the CCFA office, materials were rarely wasted, whether we were making goody bags or creating mass mailings.
- One should use a variety of marketing techniques in order to assure maximum return of numbers; this includes email, phone, postal mail, and in-person marketing.
- Persistence, or “following up” with any potential clients is critical. This persistence makes it more likely for a person to support the organization; this support is necessary for the non-profit to reach its fundraising goals.
- When dealing with any client, one must treat her as an individual, in order to create a unique and lasting connection with the person. This approach inspires others to continue working with the organization, and also adds to the growing positive reputation of the organization.
While working at the CCFA, one skill I have learned is how to monitor and organize potential recruitments for CCFA programs via the Internet. To elaborate, the CCFA uses a very effective database called the “intranet”, which keeps track of all of the recruitment leads’ information within each CCFA chapter (designated by location). More specifically, each chapters’ recruitment lead files includes the following information: details they provided, such as phone, address, or email, how they found out about the event, what they are specifically interested in, and each date and method that they were contacted by (ex: called, 4/16). We are also able to put in other notes, such as “has a broken ankle, but is interested in fall events”, or “wants to go to 5/7 meeting, requests a call confirmation”. By entering all of our data into this program, we are able to achieve various goals crucial to the success of CCFA’s different teams. First, since we can keep track of who and how each person has been reached, we make sure to contact them an appropriate amount, and through the correct methods. That way, we don’t email the same person three times in one day, or forget to call back someone who is truly interested in the program! By utilizing the notes section, we are also able to make sure that we maintain that unique connection with the person we are contacting. It is much more personal—and impressive–to call someone and ask a question that shows that you are an organization dedicated to helping people as opposed to just recruiting numbers. Rather than repeat the same script to someone you already talked to, one could ask: “You told us you were recovering from an injury and would check back with us; how are you feeling?”. This approach might be unexpected, but it is certainly appreciated.
Another benefit of the intranet is the ability to organize recruitment leads based on any type of data. For example, if you would like to view all of the people attending “Information Meeting 2”, you can simply select that option from the menu, and the program will display those items, so that you don’t have to sift through hundreds of people trying to find the right name. Similarly, it also provides other helpful organization methods, such as alphabetizing, or, if you want to find someone by location, organizing them by phone or address. These are pretty standard functions for computer databases, but important nonetheless. Working as an intern required a lot of phone-calling, mailing, emailing, and follow-ups, so all of these aspects of the program were invaluable to me while working on Team Challenge projects. During my time at CCFA, I managed to contact almost all of the current leads, at least twice, without any major errors. The intranet made my job much easier to do well, and it also gave me a better idea of how businesses organize their information. As a result of this experience, I hope to possibly apply some of these concepts to my own work in the future.
For several weeks, I have been setting up tables at the Genentech and Club One gyms to promote and generate interest for Team Challenge in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon. In order to do this, I’ve been chatting with any clients walking by, giving out brochures, and offering out granola bars. The main goal of each of these sessions is to get people to request more information on a sign up sheet, which the CCFA later uses to contact them via mail, phone or email. These sign ups are crucial in order to get enough people to attend the “information meetings” for Team Challenge, and hopefully sign up for the race.
The actual number of runners per CCFA “chapter”(in this case, Northern California Chapter) is not large; in the Napa to Sonoma race, for example, our chapter consisted of 40 people. It is important, however, to recruit as many people as possible—hundreds, even—because the number of people who are willing to actually commit to the race is far less than the number of people who are simply interested. While I have successfully generated interest at both sites, that success has definitely varied based on the audience. At Genentech, most exercisers were younger (25-45); also, the racial demographics varied greatly. At Club One, however, most were older (35-60), and there was less ethnic diversity. That being said, I had much more success generating interest at Genentech than at Club One. I think the reason for this might be because a younger, more diverse audience is: a) more physically capable of running races and b) more open to trying new things. On the other hand, it is important to note that it is more likely for an older client to be financially stable and more capable of fundraising. Therefore, while I may have found fewer leads at Club One, my time there might have brought more “quality” potentials, rather than quantity.
My experiences running these tables have taught me several important lessons about marketing and work in the non-profit world. First, it is important to target your audience. Different people are attracted to different things. For example, young people are often turned on by the idea of exercise or a weekend in Las Vegas; older people, on the other hand, are often more interested in the non-profit and its “good cause”. Second, it is important to stay motivated and be persistent. In order to achieve your goals, you have to keep talking to people, keep following up with them, and continue to sell yourself until you reach the numbers you need. It’s hard work, and sometimes seems fruitless, but it always pays off in the long run. Even if those people don’t commit to your cause right away, they might contact you later on, simply because you caught their attention that one time. Finally, it is important to both know and appreciate your “product”. Potential clients want to talk to someone who is informed; they want questions answered before they make any decisions, and they want to know how and where they can get more information later on. Furthermore, they will be more interested and more likely to trust you if you are genuinely invested in and enthusiastic about your cause. If you keep these lessons in mind, I believe that you will succeed not only in your career, but in life in general! I am grateful that CCFA has given me this experience and these new insights into the business world.
You can find more information about Team Challenge and the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon at this website:
I recently joined CCFA at the Napa-to-Sonoma Half-Marathon, to support and help organize events for Team Challenge members. These events included: the annual pre-race pasta party, the actual race, and the after party. These runners–similar to those in Team-in-Training–had spent the last few months training together and raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation; we wanted to make sure that they were rewarded for their hard work with an amazing weekend! I was so glad that my co-workers suggested I come; there was plenty to do, and the experience was amazing.
While the whole event was impressive, I think my favorite aspect of it was the pasta party. As hundreds of Team Challenge members approached the “Field of Dreams” for the party, CCFA staff and volunteers cheered them on with an enthusiasm I’ve never seen before. Everyone was smiling, happy, yelling; even in this sea of people, it seemed like no one was a stranger! I loved that feeling of comradery; it made me appreciate the great lengths the CCFA goes to make sure that relationships are formed within their program.
I also came to understand more about the detrimental effect Crohn’s and Colitis has on people’s lives. While I had already understood the severe nature of the disease prior to the race, I didn’t have any sort of personal connection to the issues. This weekend changed that for me. I was shocked to learn that so many people I considered capable, high-functioning, and happy were suffering. They did not let their illnesses slow them down; rather, they used it as a way to bond with others through Team Challenge! That sort of strength was awe-inspiring.
In terms of work, my trip to Napa was a blur of cheering, snack-organizing, and name-tag decorating. First and foremost, however, it was an opportunity to become personally connected to the organization I had been working with. I feel so lucky to be working with a foundation that is invested not only in changing people’s lives, but in taking the time to help their staff and volunteers enjoy and appreciate the work that they do. I believe that this is one of the many reasons why the CCFA has been so successful as a non-profit organization.
The race results and more information about the Napa-to-Sonoma Half Marathon can be found at:
This summer I have been interning at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), located in the Hearst Building in San Francisco. This non-profit organization is designed to achieve several goals:
• Raise awareness of the effects and presence of crippling digestive diseases, specifically Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
• Provide support groups/programs/opportunities for those suffering from the illnesses
• Fund and carry out research crucial to finding a cure for Crohn’s and colitis.
One of the ways in which CCFA reaches this goals is by participating in charity running events, in order to raise money (through fundraising) and awareness (through press/visibility). People running for the CCFA are a part of “Team Challenge”. My main role as an intern is to promote Team Challenge, recruit new members, and organize certain events and data related to the group. Right now, I’ve been working on several different race projects: The Kona-Hawaii Half Marathon, the Napa to Sonoma Half-Marathon (July 18th) and The Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon (December 12th). Because each charity event is at a different stage right now (Napa and Kona are just ending, and Las Vegas is just beginning), the work that I’m doing for each event varies considerably.
For the Kona race, I have been doing a lot of organizational and support work. For example, I made lots of “goody bags” for the runners, inspirational door signs for their hotel rooms the night before the race, and kept track of their different monetary statuses and varying race needs (ex: making copies of their financial contributions, keeping track of how many bus passes each person needed, what their dietary needs were, etc). This race just took place last weekend, however, so now I’m putting more focus onto the other two events: Napa and Vegas. The Napa race is coming up very soon: July 18th! For that event, I haven’t had to do so much prep work, but I will be driving up for the weekend to help out runners, promote CCFA and it’s upcoming events, and learn more about how the CCFA functions.
Most of my energy during my time here has been spent on the upcoming Las Vegas race, because we are currently in a crucial promotional/prep time. All of the info meetings and trainings start in August, so it’s important to make sure everyone knows about Team Challenge now! I have been going to different gyms and setting up tables to teach people about the race and CCFA, and have been getting them to sign up for more information. So far I’ve been really successful; I had 40 people sign up for more info in only 2 days! I’ve also been putting out stands with brochures at various shops around San Francisco, and making different ads and postings online at different sites. This is also in addition to following up with those interested in the race by phone or email, tracking each person’s responses, and recording their info (address, etc). It’s been a lot of work, and I’ve been very busy, but I’ve really enjoyed this job because it lets me improve upon so many different skill sets. I also feel good because I am working for a great cause, and my co-workers are energetic, friendly, and supportive. This is a wonderful environment to intern in; it has made me grow as an individual. I can’t wait to see what else I will learn in the weeks to come!