Passion for a Cause
So you're interested in a career in development, marketing or public relations for a nonprofit? I wish I could tell you how many people contact me seeking advice on how to move into or advance through this sector. They know I want to help people.
Instead of a career in development, I should have worked for a search firm. I have helped place a number of people into jobs in my career. When I sit down and talk to these nonprofit job seekers, many miss the first step in working for a nonprofit — determining their personal passion for a cause.
For example, one of my personal passions is public safety. Last week, a police officer was killed in Indianapolis. I'm very sad about that because I love and admire anyone who works for public safety. These heroes go about their business on a daily basis, risking their lives without fanfare. In fact, many of them receive negative feedback, and that should never be the case. The point is that I love public safety; it is a true passion of mine. I could easily end my career working for a public safety foundation, as I believe in the cause that deeply. Do you have a cause that stirs your soul?
I also have a deep interest in health care, education and social services. While I like the arts, I do not have the same interest in talking to prospects with passion for that cause. I strongly suggest if you ever consider moving into a nonprofit or seek advancement in a nonprofit, take a moment to create an inventory of the areas of interest for you.
After the interest area is established, think about where you would like to live geographically. From that process, determine employers in that area that catch your eye. See if you know staff or board members associated with those organizations. Talk to them to get a sense of a possible "fit," whether it is today or tomorrow. This process takes time and research.
For the lucky ones in our profession, some never have to go through the process of the hard job search. People call them, or they fall into situations where they can easily make choices. For others, the job search is very long and challenging.
You will not succeed in any position unless you feel good about its mission, vision and values. This topic is complex as organizations and positions within organizations change over time. I always ask people in the field, "What are your career goals in the nonprofit arena?" Many early-career employees seem not to have a career idea, mid-career employees are usually focused toward advancement in a particular area and the senior-career employees seem to be set on maintaining their areas of focus while consulting others at times. In any case, regardless of the length or focus of your career, maintain a passion for the cause.
A passion for a cause makes the nonprofit sector special and unique. Try never to lose it, and if you do, it might be time to pursue another career path.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.