UNI NLA wins awards at national conference



Students from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at UNI won several awards for their work at the Alliance Management Institute’s national conference in Florida last January.


In early January, several UNI students attended the Alliance Management Institutes national conference and won awards.

Sophomore Katelyn Brockmeyer and juniors Madison Gaffney, Mikaela Heikens, Jenna Hoover and Josie Riedell won the first-place award for their presentation, which was called “NLA Annual Campaign: A Study in Fundraising and Student Development Best Practices.”

The students were a part of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance at UNI.

“The program at UNI is a certificate program for students to build skills for the social sector,” said Julianne Gassman, campus executive director of UNI’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. “We’re building a talented and prepared workforce for the social sector.”

The NLA is part of a national program with a headquarters in Kansas and has several workforce partners.  UNI’s program allows students to earn credentials as a certified nonprofit professional. This is done by going through a set of 10 courses where they learn various competencies, skills and abilities. As a part of the program, they also do a 300-hour internship and attend the conference in Florida.

“Our students did a presentation on how they managed their fundraising campaign and how they raised their funds,” Gassman said. “We took 41 students to Orlando, Fla., and the students never paid anything. We raised a lot of money. They talked about the way that our campaign was structured and the way that we do that, and we won first place in the best practices for a student association.”

In total, students from UNI NLA raised $22,040. This money is used to help students develop themselves professionally.

For their fundraising campaign, students ask for support from family, friends and donors. The UNI Nonprofit Leadership Alliance has a database of over 200 alumni and local donors with whom students can speak with. Members of the group are required to structure a campaign and create call sheets to learn how to appropriately fundraise.

UNI won a second award at the conference for their campus as a whole.  The award that they received was also related to fundraising. This was a part of a competition with other campuses all across the country. 

Every fall, the student association reaches out to the local community and nonprofit organizations. Afterwards, students do a follow-up with agencies to see who they will be working with and the timeline for their project. They work with the nonprofit sector as a whole, with their clients ranging from food banks to nursing homes.

“We don’t exist for the purpose of the service,” Gassman said. “We engage in service activities so that they build our knowledge, skills and abilities for working with the sector. That’s a pretty distinct difference. I don’t want to not do good, but I don’t want to do good for the sake of doing good. The purpose of our organization is to build the skills and abilities of the students to be able to be effective employees in the nonprofit sector.”

While expectations are high in their program, Gassman hopes that the experiences that students have with it will mirror what is expected in the workforce after graduation. UNI’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is meant to help students get a job and become engaged citizens. She has seen many students who were a part of their organization take up leadership positions in companies. When multiple extracurricular activities are combined together, she thinks that students will become powerful assets for potential employers.