We’ve turned our attention to Colorado this month, and have already shared ways senior volunteers are giving back to their community and how organizations in the state are making a difference. Here’s a job seeker success story from Sara Struckman, an adjunct professor at the University of Denver who runs her own nonprofit consulting firm, Struckman Consulting.
Sara was a grad student in 2003, living in Iowa City and planning to move to Des Moines when she first discovered Idealist.org.
“I was finishing a paper at midnight or something and Googled ‘how to find a nonprofit job’ and found Idealist,” she said. “A job popped up in Des Moines, I applied, and heard back the next day. Two weeks later, I had a job. It was meant to be and Idealist was the avenue to get there.”
After her stint in Iowa City, Sara got her PhD at the University of Texas and then moved to Denver. She worked in fundraising for a couple years, and then decided to become a consultant, working with three to five nonprofits in the area on fundraising and development. She also is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver, and points everything in her career back to that first job she found on Idealist.
“In Iowa, I worked at a community organizing organization and it changed the whole trajectory of my career,” Sara said. “I hadn’t thought much about social justice issues before that and when I got my PhD, it was looking at social justice and communication issues. As a consultant, I focus on organizations that have a social justice focus, and that’s what I teach that as well: media and social justice issues and nonprofits.”
“That first job that I found on Idealist literally changed my career path and it is the reason I am doing what I’m doing today,” she added.
Now, having lived in Colorado for five years, Sara said she loves the community she and her family have found in the Denver metro area, living by the mountains, and all the biking options available. Working as a consultant, she is able also to work on a variety of issues and has learned a lot about the robust nonprofit community in Colorado.
“There are a lot of nonprofits in the Denver metro area, a lot of human service type of work,” she said. “The sector here is really diverse; I work with art organizations, health organizations, education organizations, and we even have a nonprofit bike shop in my neighborhood! They are all pretty well-supported through private foundations and corporate sponsorships, which is what I focus on as a consultant.”
Diversity of funding is one challenge for the nonprofits Sara works with in Colorado, as well as for organizations across the country. Many are used to getting funding from the government, private foundations, or special events, she said, and are learning how to attract and retain individual donors, especially those who want to donate online and via digital channels. And that is what Sara is focusing on as a consultant, several years after finding her first job on Idealist.
“I don’t think I would be where I am without having found that position on Idealist,” she said. “Looking back on it, it was an important turning point in my career.”