Development Life Is a Long Song
If you're old enough, you'll remember the '70s song "Life Is a Long Song" by the rock band Jethro Tull. As you stop and think about your development career, isn't it a long song? How many of you, in high school or college, remember saying, "I definitely intend to make resource development in the nonprofit sector my career?"
I chose this career by accident many years ago. I certainly didn't map out a supreme career strategy. In fact, while explaining to my then 7-year-old daughter what I did for a living as a fundraising professional, she responded, "Daddy, you are like Robin Hood."
When you really explore your career, you need to look at it in chapters. In some ways the career takes form at an early stage where you are feeling your way. The mid-stage career is one in which you are making your mark. The late stage is the fun stage, when you only care about the mission of the institution and providing wisdom to others. The largest tenure in one place for me has been 16 years, and the shortest two years. I will assume these numbers are average in the scheme of things. The fact is that in this profession, tenure is usually out of your control. Performance is certainly key, but chemistry, relationships, opportunities and simple luck can determine longevity in your job.
During my career I paid thousands of dollars for career coaches that frankly ended up being a waste of time and money. While I wanted to explore opportunities in government and business, every indicator ultimately pointed me back to the nonprofit sector. It makes sense to constantly evaluate where you are and what you enjoy doing. It also makes sense to play to your strengths and experience in this economy.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.