Making the Right Choices as Fundraising Professionals
Mentoring can be exhilarating and a bit tough. I've been working with someone who has among the greatest potential I have ever seen, but often the individual just can't seem to make the right choices.
So that has been on my mind a lot. The choices we make. In this case, it's a college student whose choices now are defining this student's life.
As I have been thinking about this theme, it had me thinking about a career in fundraising and the choices that we make that define who we are and our work.
Here are some choices that we, as fundraising professionals, should be making:
Choose to be passionate. This is incredible work: I believe a calling. So be passionate about your profession and about the organizations and causes you embrace and provide leadership to.
Choose to be happy. Life is too short to suffer through a bad situation or to be around negative or frankly just bad people.
Choose to work with a good team. Whom you associate with defines you and especially your work team. Choose an organization — and its people. Be around successful, positive, solution-finders who build up those around them.
Choose to always improve. Embrace Kaizen — the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. Have a plan for your development as a professional. Don't rely on your organization for guidance or even professional development financial support. Many a year I have used personal funds — even in tough times — to go to a conference or buy a publication. Today, there are so many great resources for learning — like FundRaising Success!
Choose to be ethical. Our nonprofit sector has so many incredible leaders who are effective and values-driven. But all of us in our careers encounter situations where ethics are shaded. Be true to your values. Don't be afraid to speak up.
Choose to build our profession. Fundraising is still evolving as a profession. We have come a long way. But we have a long way to go for our profession to have the respect that our work deserves. Provide your organizations the value they deserve and get involved in organizations like the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, North American YMCA Development Organization and Association for Healthcare Philanthropy that help build you and build our profession.
Choose to mentor others. Help people fulfill their potential in our field. Do this on a regular basis and you will build a great legacy.
Choose to honor donors. They are who we really work for — help them achieve fulfillment, significance and the joy of giving. Treat them with the respect that you want as a donor. Remember that regardless of the size or timing of the gift that they are special people with whom you are honored to partner to accomplish great things.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.