35 Years … and Still Learning Fundraising
You're going to have to come up with your own strategy for flagging things to retrieve for later reading, but make sure you are giving yourself a diet that reflects variety. My favorite part of fundraising is direct mail (weird, I know), so I have to read more about planned giving, major donors and search engine maximization, to name just a few topics, to remain relevant.
I also recommend setting up a way to actually retrieve information when you need it. Personally, I have a folder on my computer that contains 69 sub-folders, ranging from "990s" to "Who's Mailing What." Some of the contents (articles, studies, downloads) date back 10 or more years; a few are actually scans of articles I tore out of magazines early in my career. The bottom line is, whatever system you use or set up now, make sure you can actually find information when you need it. It won't do you any good if you can't find it, or have to spend precious time to locate something you vaguely remember reading once upon a time.
Cultivate friendships with fundraisers with different expertise. As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy direct mail. But I routinely have lunch with a friend who is fantastic at major gift fundraising and capital campaigns. I talk often with others who are great in online fundraising, and specifically driving traffic to a website. If I have a planned giving question, there's someone I can call, or if I am not sure about membership programs, I can ask yet another person.
It's always tempting when I attend a conference to go to sessions that cover topics that I feel most comfortable with. After all, I don't want to look stupid. But I have to remind myself that professional conferences aren't third grade; no one is going to call on me and embarrass me because I don't know the right answer. When I stretch myself going to a conference that offers new information, I learn—and I often meet people who become resources for the future.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.