This summer I had the opportunity to intern in the development department of Salzburg Global Seminar, an international non-profit based in Salzburg, Austria and Washington D.C. Having spent last semester studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, I was eager to work with an organization like Salzburg Global that had both international operations and a global mission and scope.
The main offices of Salzburg Global are headquartered in Austria in a palace, otherwise known as Schloss Leopoldskron, (which may look a little familiar as it served as one of the filming locations in the Sound of Music). It is there that the programming team develops and hosts over 20 seminars a year, convening policy makers, practitioners, and researchers from private, public and civil society sectors to “solve issues of global concern”. If that sounds ambitious and broad, its because it is. While many non-profits have a niche cause they address in their mission, the scope of Salzburg Global’s seminars are not limited by specific program areas, nor are their participants limited by sector and field.
Originally founded in 1947 to encourage the revival of intellectual dialogue in post-war Europe, Salzburg Global Seminar works with the world’s leading public and private organizations, philanthropic investors, and individual change makers to facilitate and host international strategic convening and multi-year programs to tackle systems challenges critical for the next generation. A catalyst for global engagement on critical issues such as education, health, environment, economics, governance, and peace-building, Salzburg Global’s program strategy aims to accelerate progress through convening some of the world’s leading problem solvers across sectors, disciplines, and geographies.
While visa limitations precluded extending my time in Austria to be able to work at the Salzburg office in the Schloss, Salzburg Global’s United States offices in Washington D.C. gave me the opportunity to be involved in one of the most important aspects of any non-profit organization: development. How any given non-profit funds its programs its different, but most employ some combination of individual and board giving and corporate and foundation grants.
As a Foundations and Grants intern, most of my work focused on researching foundations and grant opportunities to support our seminars that align with their program goals. I got to be involved with many stages of the fundraising process and working with foundations from connecting with program officers, to drafting concept notes and submitting letters of inquiry.
One of my favorite aspects of my experience with SGS was the opportunity to be involved with creating a seminar proposal from scratch and contributing to the process of an idea becoming a full-blown proposal. The early stages began as a fluid concept, and being charged with researching and writing a brief on “peace in the Middle East and North Africa region” was overwhelming, not to mention contradictory. However, as the concept developed over time, it became more refined and the seminar itself was fleshed out in the capable hands of our program officers.
The broad scope of the issues SGS seeks to address is one of the factors that drew me to working with them. In helping to develop future seminars, I had the opportunity to do research on topics ranging from the future of social and emotional learning in the digital age, to trans-boundary conservation efforts and solutions to over-fishing, to the history of intractable conflicts and the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Each seminar posed a new challenge, new research, and new foundations to connect with, and the experience of getting to know each of these issues and the organizations that champion them was such a valuable experience for a senior about to graduate and hoping to go into the non-profit sector.