By Morgan Geyer, ’19

In May 2018, when Kylie Dyer began working in her new role as the Assistant Director for Athletics Engagement at Longwood University, she quickly realized there was one very important aspect of the job in which she had yet to gain experience: fundraising. 

In her position, it is Dyer’s responsibility to engage with alumni, fans and donors in order to encourage more participation at Longwood University athletic events, generate school pride and stir up a passion to support their mission financially.

Faced with this challenge, Dyer looked to her colleagues for resources through which she could gain the knowledge and experience needed to be successful in her mission. 

Dyer’s co-workers recommended that she attend the University of Richmond Institute on Philanthropy, a program of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies, to complete the Fund Development Institute. Dyer, encouraged by her supervisor, received departmental approval to attend the week-long program when it was offered in Summer 2018. 

The Fund Development Institute changed the way Dyer thought about her job. “I learned that fundraising is not about asking for money, it is about connecting with people and providing them with the opportunity to be fulfilled by helping a cause that they are passionate about,” shared Dyer. 

Dyer enjoyed getting back in the classroom and felt supported by her instructors. “The speakers were inspirational, extremely qualified, yet very approachable and down to earth. The classroom environment was encouraging. I felt safe to ask questions as someone just getting into the fundraising field and free to learn from mistakes,” expressed Dyer.

In July 2018, Dyer earned her Fund Development Certificate and returned to Longwood equipped with a fresh perspective and the fundraising techniques she needed to inspire participation from alumni. 

Although her professional development was complete, returning to the classroom awoke Dyer's love for learning and opened her eyes to the additional opportunities that SPCS had to offer. In Fall 2018, she decided to pursue a Master of Human Resource Management through SPCS and is now in her second semester of study. 

Dyer’s immersion into the study of HR management has been equally as rewarding as her time in the Fund Development Institute. “I am able to apply concepts from specific fields of HR to parts of my life that have nothing to do with HR, as well as understand very complex subjects that apply directly to the HR world,” Dyer said, “I can honestly say I feel pride for the major I am in and for the school I attend every time I walk on campus to go to class.”

The decision to return to school after being out of the classroom for a long period of time can be a challenging one, but Dyer’s reintroduction through the Institute on Philanthropy instilled in her the confidence she needed to make the choice. “All in all, had it not been for my enjoyable experience during the Fund Development program in the IOP, I don’t think I would have had the courage to go back to school for my master’s at all,” explained Dyer.