IMFF Raises $8,000 for Black-led Chicago Nonprofits

The Impact Marketing and Fundraising Fellowship convened UIUC students, professional mentors and nonprofits for summer program.

The University of Illinois College of Media’s Hub for Brand Innovation and Advertising Technology and Covalent’s Impact Marketing and Fundraising Fellowship (IMFF) raised $8,000 for Black-led nonprofits in Chicago communities in its first summer of operation. 

The first-of-its-kind summer fellowship program trained 20 UIUC students in digital marketing, brand strategy, client communications, and nonprofit fundraising before pairing them with selected local nonprofits. IMFF fellows were each paired with a professional mentor and another student to build a fundraising campaign that ran during Black Philanthropy Month in August.

Covalent opens the door for young professionals interested in social impact and digital marketing careers by engaging them in cohort-based projects and giving them access to forward-thinking professionals, small businesses and nonprofits. Since the summer of 2020, Covalent has trained over 130 students, supported over 80 small businesses and nonprofits, and engaged 150 mentors who wanted to help students find job opportunities.

“The training helped me understand how to best talk to donors and get engagement with others,” said Rachel Ruan, a recent advertising graduate from the University of Illinois’ College of Media. “It showed us how to start the fundraising journey with our client and how to manage the platforms needed to execute our own campaigns.” 

From nonprofits empowering Chicago teens leaving the foster care system to providing minority law students access to financial scholarships, the range of IMFF’s clients was vast. Many did not have the resources or bandwidth to run fundraising campaigns on their own. 

“​​As a newer organization that had never fundraised before, this project taught us so much,” said Sarah Ngoh, director of external communications and transparency at the (Un)learning Space. “We learned so much about how to create a fundraising campaign, and we feel so much more confident trying to do this on our own now.”

IMFF brought in professional mentors with digital marketing and nonprofit acumen to oversee the fellows’ progress throughout the summer.

“Covalent and IMFF provide students with the hands-on experience to launch their careers in marketing while highlighting the opportunities in the nonprofit sector, uniting an accelerating support network, and creating community impact,” said Onix Nava, a mentor at IMFF this summer and a senior associate for Management Leadership of Tomorrow.

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