A Worthwhile Investment: You
A former colleague recently contacted me to say his employment had come to an end. He commented that he was tired of letting others decide his career path. That niggled in my mind for a while, as I know how easy it is to rely on our employers for career growth — and yet how fatal that can be.
The reality is no one cares as much about your career path as you do. Or at least, no one should. But when you’re overwhelmed by the work that is screaming out for your attention, it’s hard to think past the next mail drop, Web page update or major-donor call.
Here are some tips for growing your own career even while you grow the income of your nonprofit employer.
Set a goal for one specific, measurable thing in your fundraising program
One way we grow our careers is by having success in our careers. But standing out as an expert (or at least a better-than-average fundraiser) is tough, especially if you work for a nonprofit that doesn’t have a lot of resources to work with. So in the midst of everything else you are focusing on, select one area that you are going to give some extra energy to. It may be lapsed-donor retention, second-gift conversion, bequest marketing or whatever you see has potential to improve if given some extra TLC.
Next, develop a strategy and keep tinkering until you find solutions. You may not solve the entire problem, but are there small gains taking place? Are you seeing progress or at least finding out what doesn’t work? (Take heart; it was Albert Einstein who said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”)
Once you have some learnings, start sharing them with others in your network. Report them in your annual self-evaluation, or share them in a staff meeting. Sometimes we’re too modest, but if you are serious about growing your career, make sure you don’t hide what you’ve accomplished.