Secrets to a Happy Fundraising Career (and a Sane One Too)
Development professionals are a unique breed. We are a critical part of any nonprofit organization yet our work lives are necessarily externally facing. We face intense pressures and high expectations, and while we are (often) compensated well for it, it takes its toll. Within organizations, there are a lot of negative myths and misperceptions about development, fundraisers, and even wealth itself. Furthermore, many executive directors have never held a formal development position, which can result in a major disconnect around development strategy and organizational priorities. It’s no wonder that according to a recent study by CompassPoint 50% of fundraisers are actively looking for another profession and 50% of executive directors report they can’t find high-quality candidates.
As someone who has worked in development for 15 years in multiple roles at multiple institutions, there are a few things that I do to make sure that I stay happy and sane in my job.
There are also things that an executive director can do to ensure a solid partnership with a fundraiser, and to develop fundraisers motivated to stay and succeed in their current roles.
Development is like landing planes at a busy airport. Development has to trust that the runway is long enough, and doesn’t end with a cliff or a brick wall. We have to have faith that staff will take care of the plane and its passengers once it lands, so that it’s fueled up for the next flight. The airport needs to trust us to land planes safely, and communicate about our flight plans ahead of time so they can know what to expect. When it is working, it’s an amazing operation. My hope is that more development directors and executive directors can use these strategies not just to avoid accidents, but also to build powerful partnerships that change the world.
This guest post is written by Sarah Beaulieu, Senior Advisor to the Opportunity Nation campaign and Founder of The Enliven Project. This post also appeared on http://www.theenlivenproject.com
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