Lauren McCarey ’23

SOAR365, Richmond, VA

My internship at SOAR365 was an incredible experience, especially considering the unprecedented times in which we are living. Although my internship was entirely remote, I still felt connected to the mission, my coworkers, and the work I was doing. I am grateful for all of the opportunities to learn and grow that this internship afforded me.

After participating in several orientation activities in May, I officially began my internship on June 1. After getting acclimated, I began the planning phase for a new donor survey that was intended to gauge satisfaction amongst SOAR365 donors and increase feelings of engagement. This donor survey would evolve into two separate surveys, and become the main project for my internship. After familiarizing myself with a new program for grant research called GrantStation, I began doing substantial research on potential grants that might be a good fit for the organization.

The second week of my internship, I attended my first Development Board meeting. It was interesting to hear the big-picture planning aspects of the organization, and to see how the work I was doing was relevant. I also designed and mailed out a very brief survey targeted at individuals who had recently unsubscribed from the SOAR365 e-newsletter. I learned how to use two more new programs called DonorPerfect and DonorSearch, and began using them in addition to external sources to research donor demographics.

During my third week, I began conducting community outreach for a shoe box supplies drive. The supplies we collected will be used to safely reopen SOAR365 children’s and youth programs according to Covid-19 guidelines. I also sat in on my first meeting of the SOAR365 Next Generation Council (NGC)—a council of young professionals who dedicate their time and expertise. I had the opportunity to present a final draft of one of my donor surveys 
to the NGC for testing. After analyzing the results of my first test and making a few adjustments to my survey, I 
presented what would be called the Donor Experience Survey to the entire team for feedback.

The fourth and fifth weeks of my internship were spent continuing to develop the Donor Experience and the Annual Donor Survey. I also attended several meetings about long-term strategic planning and had the opportunity to present some of my research and survey testing results in team meetings. In the last three weeks of my internship, I did not take on many new projects, but rather continued all of the work I had begun in the first five weeks. And in the last week of my internship, I gave a twenty-minute presentation on the culmination of my biggest survey projects: the Donor Experience Survey and the Annual Donor Survey. Each of these surveys will remain in use for years to come.

While my internship experience was drastically different than it would have been in-person, it was a fulfilling experience from which I learned a lot. I want to sincerely thank the Class of 1972; whose generosity made this internship possible.