Where Is Your Passion?
A good friend was sharing about his experience with another consulting firm retained by a university to conduct a campaign feasibility study. "They are professional and seem to know what they're doing," he shared. He paused, and said, "but they don't have any passion."
According to Penelope Burk in "Donor-Centered Leadership," the average amount of time a fundraiser stays at his or her job: 16 months. The direct and indirect costs of finding a replacement: $127,650.
In their study UnderDeveloped, CompassPoint and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund look at the high turnover rate among development professionals — as well as the often long vacancies during fundraising transitions. They reported that 40 percent of development directors surveyed were not sure that they would stay in the field for their entire professional lives, and especially with smaller organizations large numbers said they see themselves changing organizations within two years.
"A world in which 10 [percent] to 15 percent fundraising ratios are the norm is a world in which our charities are woefully too small to confront social problems on any meaningful scale. It's a world where growth occurs — if it occurs at all — at the pace of molasses — the pace of death — and where human suffering continues on an unimaginable scale with no end in sight," Dan Pallotta wrote in the Harvard Business Review article "We Need to Rethink Fundraising."
Clearly, lack of resources and an investment perspective to accomplish goals often lead to the high turnover in our profession — and deflate passion for the profession, organization and causes.
The nature of fundraising — relational — is contrary to the transactional approach of many organizations and other disciplines. In most cases, deep relationships take time.
So, what can we do?
- Follow your passion! For your next career move, follow your passion. There are clients that we choose not to pursue because we are not passionate about the causes — they would be better served by another firm. Find an organization where you can grow and develop deep donor relationships.
- When hiring, look for passion! What have candidates demonstrated in their past professional or volunteer lives to show that they would be energized by your mission and working on your team?
- Develop yourself. Professional development is not the responsibility of an employer (well, not fully, I believe). Take responsibility for your own professional development. For many years in my career, for example, I paid my own Association of Fundraising Professionals dues and attended conferences at my own expense. It wasn't easy, but I was passionate about my profession and my development opportunities. Create your own opportunities.
One way to reignite your passion is to register for tomorrow's FundRaising Success Virtual Conference & Expo 2013! It's free, and you can listen live or listen to the archived sessions. I can recall my passion being infused when listening to last year's presenters.
People respond to professionals who are energized by their work. Let's show our passion as fundraising professionals to help transform our profession and the world.
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.