Through my work this past week with the Fieldstone Leadership Network, I have learned much more about the organizational values the site upholds and how the site interacts with the nonprofit organizations it serves. As of last Monday, I have been conducting interviews with various nonprofit leaders in the city of San Diego as part of my summer project with Fieldstone called “Leaders in the Field: Profiles During the Pandemic.” I typically have two to three interviews throughout the afternoon each weekday (since I have to account for the three-hour time difference), and every interview has been extremely insightful and pleasant. Outside the content of the interviews, scheduling the interviews and sending confirmation and follow-up emails has taught me the importance of planning ahead in the nonprofit field. When I was initially conceptualizing how to reach out to interviewees, I did not take into account the need for confirmation emails; I figured the interviewees would sign up for a time on my spreadsheet and I would message them on the day of the interview. Clearly, this initial thought process contradicts one of the values of Fieldstone: preparation and forethought are key to the success of the network and crucial to my Summer project. After working with the nonprofit sector these past weeks, I am now beginning to understand that attention to detail is oftentimes just as important as having a bold vision for an organization.
Originally, I was nervous about sending out emails to the leaders I would be interviewing. I was not entirely sure about how formal of a register I should employ, especially with greeting people by their first or last names. However, as I began to converse with my interviewees, my emails adjusted to being more casual and personalized based on each interview I conducted. I have tried my best to keep them from being too rigid and standardized. I typically mirror the formality of the email I am responding to, and when making first contact with people, I stick to a formal register. Politeness is also a necessary norm in any email correspondence I have with Fieldstone workers or with other nonprofit leaders, so I almost always thank whomever I am talking to for sharing their time.
I have also learned more about the way the Fieldstone Leadership Network communicates with the nonprofits it serves. This past Thursday, Fieldstone hosted a virtual event featuring the executive producer of the recent film Just Mercy. The timing of this event in the midst of nationwide protests is actually partly coincidental (the event was scheduled to take place in-person in early May but was canceled due to COVID-19). However, my supervisor and Fieldstone director Janine Mason decided to hold the event virtually via Zoom because she believes that Fieldstone, like all nonprofit organizations, has an obligation to promote inclusivity and to be actively antiracist. Zoom events such as this one are just one of the ways that Fieldstone provides wisdom to other nonprofit organizations and fosters collaboration among the organizations it serves.