Learn, Listen, Achieve: CDCO Chosen for Prestigious Program

Sep 21, 2023 | News, Policy & Practice

Each year, just 23 fundraisers are selected to join a prestigious group of community leaders. 

This year, Foster Success’s own Travis Tester, CFRE, was among those chosen for the program.

The Mutz Philanthropic Leadership Institute, organized by the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, teaches participants how to become better leaders and support centers for their non-profit organizations, as well as how they can acquire support in the form of donations and gifts for their nonprofits. 

Travis applied to the Institute in hopes of becoming a better leader and growing his network, both of which are allowing him to strengthen Foster Success’s Development & Communications Department and grow awareness of the organization throughout the state. 

“I’ve always been a life learner. I wanted to meet people from different backgrounds and grow my network of colleagues,” he said.

Over the course of his experience, Travis’s main focus has been centered around improving his leadership skills, especially when it comes to philanthropy.

He has a Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies from IUPUI and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. A mentor encouraged him to pursue the development and fundraising route during his first professional job at Music for All. 

“A huge part of my life has been the mentors I’ve had. Always look at where you’re going, not what you’re trying to avoid,” Travis said. 

He always keeps some specific questions in mind to guide him in his work. 

“Some questions that I often ask myself are, how can I be a better fundraiser not only for the organization I’m working for, but also for the donors that I work with? How can I relay leadership skills to younger generations?” Travis said.

Foster Success hears, supports, and empowers Indiana teens and young adults transitioning out of foster care. 

Travis wants to be a reliable source of support for all those he works with.

Now that he is halfway through the program, Travis has had the opportunity to interact and engage with the philanthropic sector of Indiana’s workforce.

“[One important aspect is learning] how to utilize the information to become a better leader. How do I utilize the information to be better in my position as Chief Development & Communications Officer at Foster Success?”  Travis said.

Much of the support Foster Success has gained stems from other organizations and individual donors placing trust in Foster Success, he said.

“There needs to be Corporate Social Responsibility, meaning that corporations need to support nonprofits. They need to invest money and trust in the work that we do, without the burden of significant reporting,” Travis said. 

The training he has received from Mutz is helping him to improve Foster Success programs, too. 

“I was able to secure a significant gift to our Basic Needs program through the support of other organizations. That would not have happened without the Philanthropic Leadership Institute,” Travis said.

Basic Needs was created to support Indiana teens and young adults transitioning out of foster care who are struggling with housing, utilities, transportation, employment, and health care connections.

During his time in the leadership program, he has learned there are two essential skills that one must have to be an effective leader.

“If we want to be a respected source of information by others, we must lead by example. You need to listen, too,” Travis said. “Those are the two most important things.”

As he progresses through the program, some of his main goals are to learn how to approach the Philanthropic sector and foster collaboration in the most productive way. He hopes engaging within the sector will help him to become a strong and informed leader.

Travis will graduate from the program on October 10.

By Gracie Elmer, Foster Success Marketing & Communications Intern

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