That Time I...Worked At Teach For America
Updated: Jun 2
My very first fundraising job set me up for success and ignited my love for Development Operations.
To me, the greatest privilege of working in the nonprofit sector is the opportunity to give back to those in my community. I can’t think of a better way to do that than by reflecting on my time in the field in hopes of offering guidance to those who are new to the profession. Thus, I'd like to welcome you to the first of a series of posts titled "That Time I..." where I reflect on past experiences and share how the lessons learned still influence me to this day.
Today, I'd like to share with you about that time I worked at Teach For America (TFA).
I was fresh out of college with no clue where I'd begin my nonprofit career or where life would take me. Haphazardly, I submitted my resume to Teach For America and anxiously awaited a response. I had interned with TFA in the summer of 2009 so I was delighted when they reached out to me for an interview, and ultimately, a job.
A few short weeks later I found myself living in NYC with my first full time fundraising job serving as their Gift Operations Coordinator on the Data & Operations team within the Growth, Strategy & Development department. I was excited- I was committed- I was...clueless. I had no idea what fundraisers did or how I could best contribute to the field. Nevertheless, I persisted.
In a nutshell, my team was charged with maintaining the fundraising data within their donor database. I spent every chance I could get learning from my colleagues and absorbing, practically memorizing, our data entry policy guide. I may have been overwhelmed at first but, the longer I kept at it, the more things began to crystallize.
Within no time I was drafting new data policy content, providing support to our chapters across the nation, and processing nearly one million dollars of revenue every day from an annual budget of over $180M from 39 regions and a highly diversified revenue stream. Phew.
“I was excited- I was committed- I was...clueless. I had no idea what fundraisers did or how I could best contribute to the field.”
It was at Teach For America where I fell in love with development operations and, yes, where I began my eight year love affair with The Raiser's Edge. I am so thankful to Teach For America for helping me to ignite this passion. It was at TFA where I gained knowledge of the core fundraising principals and developed a fluency in best practices for accepting foundation, corporate, individual, and state awards. It was here I began to learn about big data, campaign strategy, moves management and donor stewardship. It was here I realized I wanted to do this work the rest of my life. I was hooked.
I may have been terrified and confused at first, but I never gave up. I was lucky to have an employer who fostered my abilities and developed my skills. If it wasn't for Teach For America, who knows where I'd be?
PS- Teach For America does some really awesome work. To donate to their mission, click here.
Juliana M. Weissbein, CFRE is a respected leader and decision influencer in regard to fundraising operations best practices. With over a decade of experience, Juliana thrives on professional growth, team success, measurable results, and inspiring fundraisers to utilize data-based strategies. Juliana currently serves as the Associate Director of Development Operations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is AFP Global's 2019 Outstanding Young Professional Fundraiser and is a member of the AFP Global Women's Impact Initiative. Juliana is immediate past chair of the AFP New York City chapter’s Emerging Leaders Committee and currently serves on the chapter’s board chairing their mentorship program. She resides in Brooklyn, NY and never turns down a good kombucha.