Networking for Nonprofits

Cathy Bonner from Annette Strauss Institute on Vimeo.

Read the transcript

Previewing (10 minutes)

NOTE: The lesson plans associated with Cathy Bonner (Titled: “Networking for Nonprofits,” “Women’s Contributions,” and “The Value of a Museum”) can be sequenced or used independently.

  1. Write words NETWORKING and NON-PROFIT on the board and ask students to come up with as many associations as they can. After spending one minute on each word, stop the activity. Ask students to write down a working definition for these terms. Ask volunteers to share their definitions.
  2. Tell students that they are going to watch a video about a museum and that they will need to write down important facts about the video on WORKSHEET 1. Distribute WORKSHEET 1 to each student, who will answer the questions while watching the video.

Viewing & Discussion (20 minutes)

  1. As a class, watch the brief Cathy Bonner video, which can be accessed online at
  2. Ask students to get into small groups of 2-3 to share their answers from WORKSHEET 1.
  3. Ask students if they can describe a particular public relations strategy that Cathy Bonner and her colleagues used “to open the doors and the wallets” of museum contributors. Ask students if they know what type of people network and where they network. Guide the discussion toward the understanding that networking is a commonly practiced skill. Keeping a circle of friends and acquaintances comes very close to what business networking is about.
  4. Ask students to complete WORKSHEET 2. First, they should complete it individually and then pair up to compare the results.
    • Answer Key: 1) D- clients; 2) C- suppliers; 3) E- competitors; 4) F- general business community; 5) A- your own company/workplace; 6) B- family
  5. Instruct students to keep the WORKSHEET for a later stage in the lesson.

Application (60 minutes)

  1. Remind students that Cathy Bonner’s museum project is a non-profit organization and that much work in public service sector is done by similar organizations. Ask students about areas where non-profits rather than governmental agencies provide services. If they have difficulties, ask whether they would like government or non-profit organizations to supervise and/or run services such as, relief for underprivileged, advancement of religion, promotion of the arts, or advancement of education.
  2. As a whole class, generate a list of areas/purposes where non-profits operate.
  3. Ask students to name local non-profits that work for each of the purposes listed.
  4. Divide the class into groups to work on each area and distribute local phone directories to them to explore. Make sure each group has one person to record the group discussion. Ask each group to compile a list of local organizations.
  5. Ask students to stay in their area groups, select one organization from the list they have just made, and to brainstorm networking possibilities. Instruct students to use the groups mentioned on WORKSHEET 2 -- your workplace, family, suppliers, clients, competitors, and general business community. Ask students to be as specific as possible. Prompt them to think about WHERE and HOW they would network with representatives from each group.
    • NOTE: If teaching high school, ask students also to use the names of real companies and real positions with whom they would network.
  6. After all groups have completed the previous task, ask volunteers to present their networking plan.
  7. Next, introduce the idea of fundraising. Ask students whether or not they have participated in fundraising events and what techniques they’ve used or seen used. Ask students to explain how networking and fundraising might be connected.
  8. Instruct students to read WORKSHEET 3 “Forget the Tin. They Mean Business Now.” Ask students to highlight the ways in which money can be raised. FYI: Since the article was published in the UK, “tin” refers to a can used to collect money.
  9. Ask if they know other ways to raise money. Brainstorm options to create a list of fundraising options.
  10. Ask students to design a fundraising event for a non-profit organization of their choosing and create a flyer for the event. They should incorporate what they learned from the article and WORKSHEET 2. As a whole class, discuss what sort of information should be presented on a flyer and where and how it can be distributed for maximum effect.


Design a flyer (an advertisement) for a fundraising event.