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Three months after the PLA spring trip, I am back in the Windy City for the summer! I am interning at Grenzebach Glier & Associates (GG+A), a philanthropy management consulting firm based in Chicago. Essentially, GG+A is a for-profit consulting firm that specializes in fundraising counsel for non-profit institutions. I am working on the analytics team, that manages the firm’s models to predict fundraising potential and likelihood.

Crash course: When an institution, say Penn State, is looking through their list of potential donors, known as prospects, they want to get a sense of their wealth, so that the Penn State gift officers can ask for a gift of an appropriate size. To do that, they run all their prospects through a wealth screening model that pulls together available information from a variety of public databases and uses that to predict the amount of money a prospect could potentially give; this number is known as their wealth capacity. Further, other models are used to measure how likely a prospect would be to give based on a variety of factors. To define this, models look at past giving records, demographic data, and engagement with the institution. Together, these models help identify key prospects for donations so that more time and energy can be devoted to them.

On the analytics team, my intern project will be to work on the validation of the wealth screening model to determine how well it is actually performing. And that previous sentence is about the extent of my knowledge on the topic so far, which leads me to one of my key takeaways from my first week on the job: I have so much to learn. This is a super common way to feel after your first week at any new venture, but I am determined to learn as much as I possibly can in the short 8-week internship.

Going into the start of this internship, I was fearful – fearful that I would hate it. I had the mentality that this was just going to be a summer job; something that I had to suffer through for the two months. I would be spending my summer in a strange job in a strange city without knowing anyone.

After the first week, I am also fearful – but I am fearful that I’ll like it. The first five days have been an amazing experience thus far. The employees have been very welcoming and very excited to have interns for the summer. I like the fellow interns, and I am inspired by the mission-driven work of the firm. I am afraid that I’ll like the work and I’ll have to reevaluate my whole career path.

But – I don’t have to reevaluate my future quite yet. I am trying to take this internship as what it is – a two month foray into the world of fundraising, philanthropy, and analytics. On Thursday, one of my coworkers casually remarked, “This internship is what you make of it. You could spend your time scrolling through Reddit or you can learn as much as you can.” I know this advice isn’t incredibly profound or sage, but it really resonated with me. For the next seven weeks, you’ll find me learning as much as I can and trying to get a full understanding of the firm and the industry. I have an invaluable opportunity, and I just have to seize it.

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