Fundraising during a pandemic: Combining passions and skills

In addition to being a grants professional, I’m also a qualified Pilates teacher and Certified Personal Trainer. At the start of the year, I never thought these two passions and communities could be combined. I never thought we’d experience a pandemic either! Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, I used to spend my Saturday mornings teaching Pilates Reformer classes at a boutique studio in Austin, TX.

Pilates studio
Pilates Studio in Austin, TX

In March, when COVID-19 put everyone in lock-down and the stay-at-home order was put in place, I saw an opportunity to use my teaching skills for the benefit of the Grant Professionals Foundation (GPF) by offering weekly Pilates mat classes to clients and friends with fees being donated to directly support their mission: Strengthening Nonprofits – Advancing The Grant Profession.

This idea and approach could be seen as altruistic. In all honesty, my key motivation was maintenance: maintaining a connection with my Pilates community; maintaining health and fitness for us all; maintaining a routine and a sense of normality, especially when everything else seemed to be so disruptive and uncertain.

Not knowing how long we were likely to be in lock-down – thinking it could be a few weeks and then realizing it was more likely to be several months – I embraced Zoom and turned my Saturday morning classes into mat Pilates workouts. Most people who practice Pilates do so in a studio with specialized apparatus designed to help accelerate the process of stretching, strengthening, body alignment, and increased core strength started by the fundamental mat work. Joseph Pilates (yes, he was a real person) first developed his physical fitness system in the early 20th century. Calling it “Contrology,” his method focuses on the art of controlled movements, placing emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance.

My clients don’t own a $3000 Pilates Reformer (sadly, neither do I!) but everyone had a yoga mat, blanket, or towel they could use. They had time on their hands while at home and all wanted to connect with others – even through a computer screen. The kids and cats made it all the more fun!

Online Pilates
Online Pilates Mat Classes, via Zoom

Most people outside of the grants community are unfamiliar with the GPF. Perhaps even some grant professionals don’t realize the GPF was established in January 2006 to ensure resources are available to educate, credential, and assist grant professionals who secure the funding necessary for not-for-profits to serve the greater good. After receiving a GPF Scholarship last year to attend the 2019 GPA Annual Conference, I wanted to continue to engage with the GPF and support its cause – giving back as a way to show my appreciation for an amazing first-time experience at the GPA conference. I wrote a previous blog – as did other Scholars – about my experience.

GPF conference scholars 2019
GFP Conference Scholars 2019

Transitioning from in-person studio Pilates classes to at-home virtual classes was an ideal opportunity to talk to my Pilates clients about how the GPF provides scholarships to grant professionals and non-profit executives. All of my Pilates clients have been most generous; letting me into their homes and helping me raise money for the GPF. They keep showing up each week, with energy and focus as I say “Just one more time” into the microphone!

Now the GPF has just announced the scholarship recipients for the 2020 GPA Annual Conference – congratulations to all 12 Scholars  – I’m pleased to tell my Pilates clients how they’ve made a big difference and helped strengthen the grants profession and nonprofit community. I’m pleased to have raised a few dollars for the GPF and increased awareness of the work they do.

I know many grant professionals also have side hustles, pet projects, and hobbies that fill their time when they’re not being grant rock stars. The GPF often sees these hidden talents shine during its silent auction – their signature fundraising event – held at the GPA annual conference. While the GPA conference is a virtual event this year, the silent auction has always been online. Items for the silent auction are being accepted now and can be donated through the GPF website.

This pandemic certainly wasn’t on my 2020 “vision board” 😊, but I am glad to have had the chance to get creative and combine my passion and skills for the greater good. I hope others reading this blog will consider ways in which they can do the same.

By Victoria Threadgould – Grant Professional. GPF Board Member. Pilates Teacher.