Agency or Organization? Tips From Someone Who Made the Move
As with anything, there were surprises along the way. So for any of you considering making a move from one side to the other, here are some words of learning from somebody who did:
- Boards are the same. Both sides of the table. But as a consultant, you can help your clients by presenting and validating what they have been telling their boards all along. I'm not sure what it is, but the reality is that sometimes an outsider can get through something staff has banged its head against for months.
- If you move from the client side: People who have been your friends for years look warily at you the first day of the next conference wondering if you're going to try to bribe them with those pictures from last year's conference to get a consulting gig. By the end of the conference though, you both have enough on each other to demand a kidney.
- As a consultant: You learn that no matter how much you love and how passionate you are about the cause, it's not your program. The best clients make you feel like it is, though.
- On the nonprofit side: You learn that there are people out there who really just want to do good, amazing work to further your mission. And if you stop for a moment, you may find they are just as passionate, committed and dedicated to your cause as you are.
- On the agency side: Conferences don't like you to speak alone. ☹
- On the client side: You can't get approval to attend the conferences because you're a nonprofit. We're not made of money for heaven's sake!
- On both sides: There are smart and sometimes less-than-smart people. And it's really about the right fit, right knowledge base, right experience (or finding somebody just as gutsy as you to have a new experience!) and right results.
There is so much you can learn and add to your toolkit of fundraising/marketing knowledge on either side of the table. The bigger point is to have resources your organization needs to put yourself out of business one of these days. No matter what side of the table we're on — we all share the vision of making the world a better place and changing "something." And when you have the honor and opportunity to do that, it's hard to want to do anything else.
So, I'm a fundraiser having a mid-life crisis. And that's perfectly fine with me.
I am taking time to look around, lift my head and find REAL people who really want to change the world. And people smart enough to do it. Join me in this fun journey. I have no idea where we will end up - and that is the beauty of it. I'm nonprofit passionate, a hopeful world changer, and always ready to share what I know, learn what I don't, admit when I can't, and ask the hard questions.
While you're looking around for other areas of inspiration, check out The Moth Project at themoth.org (the podcasts are AMAZING), TED talks (doesn't matter which ones - find topics that interest you) and Volunteer Voices (again - love the podcast) written by volunteers from the Peace Corps. Don't see the immediate connection to being a better fundraiser? Just listen, you'll hear the message ...