September 26, 2017
Getting Creative to Fund Career Development and Conferences
By: Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), CLE | 0 Comments
Some childbirth educators may be employed by hospitals or independent agencies and others are self-employed. Most childbirth educators work part-time or cobble together a full-time income by working in many different capacities in the maternal-infant health field. Continuing education opportunities, career development, and conferences may, with a little luck, be covered expenses by an employer, but more often than not, funding for these items comes out of the educator's pocket. Sometimes, creativity is required and asking for help from one's village is necessary in order to have the financial resources to participate in upcoming events and opportunities.
There are many different resourceful ways to gather funding for upcoming expenses. One can have a garage sale with the proceeds earmarked for a future conference. Adding yet another part-time job might be an option if your schedule allows, even if it is a part-time gig. It may be as simple as hanging out a shingle for private birth classes and using that income to fund your future activity. Applying for grants, scholarships, and other public funding may be something to explore. If you are a person of color or work with underserved communities who feel the impact of health disparities the most, there may be financial resources that you can tap into to help with your expenses. Setting up a community fundraiser event or a silent or online auction where you have solicited auction items might be another creative source.
I recently had the opportunity to interview two creative childbirth educators who have turned to crowdfunding in order to raise money for their career development and conference activities. Mary Duke, LCCE is Lamaze International's State Champion for Kentucky. She is also a childbirth educator and birth doula. State Champions work in their home state in support of advocacy for families and improving maternal-infant health. Mary is raising money to join other advocates in Washington DC at the 2017 Lamaze International Advocacy Summit next month.
Jordan Alam, BA, ASDS is a recently trained childbirth educator who is using crowdfunding to help her pay for the study guide materials, certification and testing fees that she must pay when she sits for the Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator exam in November. Jordan is a birth doula and also works for a local non-profit that provides doulas to income-qualified families. Jordan has just started working as a childbirth educator for a local independent non-profit and completing certification is a condition of employment beyond the apprenticeship period,
Sharon Muza: Why did you decide to use this method to help you fund your upcoming trip or certification expenses?
Mary Duke: (pictured left) I decided to use crowdfunding for my trip because it would be a financial burden on my family & business otherwise. At first, I thought it was selfish, but a mentor said something that changed my stance. She said, "Just because you'll enjoy it doesn't mean it's selfish. This is bigger than you and the skills you'll learn will benefit our entire state". I also realized that crowdfunding involves my community and shows them how they are a part of the change. A theme I've clung to throughout my statewide advocacy work is, "you are the change" and this felt like another way to show my community how true it is for them.
Jordan Alam: I believe deeply in mutual community support. By crowdfunding, I offer the community a way to invest in me as a doula and educator of color in this area. Because I am committed to everyone receiving quality care during pregnancy and birth, I currently offer sliding scale services in my practice to folks who need it and am hoping to offer free/reduced cost classes when I teach. I've just opened my independent doula business and work part-time in non-profit, so I currently live on a limited personal income which makes it hard to save the upfront cash to pay for the study guide and exam. But it is important to me to certify because it is a path to greater opportunities to teach childbirth ed, give back to my community, and ultimately return the support that has been offered to me during the crowdfunding campaign.
SM: What has the feedback been from your supporters? Have there been any negative comments from anyone?
MD: No negative comments that I've heard of. My supporters are proud that I'm going. The feedback I've gotten is all positive so far and they are thankful I'm willing to travel to advocate for them.
JA: I haven't received any negative comments, but the trickiest thing to navigate is the 'etiquette' of posting fundraisers! In some groups on social media, it is not allowed to post personal fundraisers even for professional purposes. It's a tricky line to walk because this is a personal fundraiser for a professional development purpose, so I am also researching whether there are small grants I can apply for that support small businesses at the same time. I did blog about my intentions for people who wanted more information.
SM: Do you think that you will be successful in raising what you need?
MD: I do believe so. We set our goal high to cover travel, registration, food, transportation, hotel and incidentals for myself and my colleague Samantha Steen. We have already raised $1200 of the $3000 goal with one fundraiser planned and a community benefit on Oct. 9th.
JA: (pictured left) I am confident that there are funds out there. My task is doing the legwork and getting the word out there, but I believe that people want to support this work -- whether that's with a donation or a share!
SM: How did you get the idea to do this?
MD: It was suggested by the My Sunshine Birth Services network members (fellow birth professionals). I first brought up the opportunity to them as something I'd have to walk away from and they immediately offered to help raise the funds so I could go. It was shortly after than Network member Samantha Steen expressed her desire to join me and document my experience. I hope with Sam's photos I can come back and tell a story that encourages others to find their own advocacy voice.
JA: I have done fundraising for other projects that I'm a part of, such as for a small arts publication that I founded. I have only done one other personal fundraiser, but I have seen crowdfunding by other friends of mine be effective methods of asking for community support.
SM: What advice would you give to others considering something similar?
MD: Go for it! Worst case scenario you don't raise the money. Let your supporters know that if your goal isn't met the money raised will be used towards future advocacy work. Then plan a local advocacy event or donate the money raised to existing advocacy groups. If we fail to reach our goal, the money raised will go towards lobbying efforts through the Kentucky Home Birth Coalition to license Certified Professional Midwives
JA: Your people will really take care of you. Most of the people donating and sharing my campaign are people I know personally, and that has spread to their community networks. I have sought advice on how to set up my fundraiser and do outreach from people I care deeply about and who want to see me succeed - if you have confidence that your work is valuable, others will support you in that vision.
As a self-employed maternal-infant health professional, I have certainly experienced the weight and responsibilities of funding my continuing education, certifications (and recertification) and professional travel. It is always a constant juggle to figure out where the money will come from. Look, not many folks are getting rich as a childbirth educator! I really admire the creativity and fortitude with which these professionals have gone about asking their communities to support them as they work to support families during the childbearing period. When faced with similar challenges, what have you done to help fund continuing education and professional travel? Please let us know in the comments section below.
TagsChildbirth education Lamaze International Professional Resources LCCE Lamaze Exam LCCE Exam Advocacy Summit Crowdfunding Jordan Alam Mary Duke