A Worthwhile Investment: You
Learn. Then learn some more
It’s tempting to wait for our employers to offer to pay for continuing education. But even if that is happening, you owe it to yourself to invest in yourself. You may not be able to invest in a multiday event across the country, but buy a book that intrigues you (and then read it). View a webinar that covers a topic you want to master. Take a day off and go to a local seminar, or volunteer at a nonprofit that is successfully doing something that you want to master.
The first book of fundraising that I bought cost me several hours of pay; it was a sacrifice. But I still have that book years later because it reminds me that investing in myself matters. If I had waited for my employer — cash-strapped as it was — to buy a book for me so I could learn to be a better fundraiser, I would have retired sans book.
There are also great learning opportunities that are free and show up in your e-mail box every day — which you obviously know as you are reading this newsletter. But subscribe to (and read) one or two that are outside your specific focus. That’s a great way to learn what’s happening in the wider world other than your specific specialty or what’s in your job description. And that knowledge can help you as you look to grow your career and accept new challenges.
Talk to others
Much of my career was spent working for smaller nonprofits. Many, many times, I called organizations that did similar work as us but were much bigger. I asked them what they were seeing in this area or how this or that was performing for them. I suspect they didn’t think my organization was big enough to be a threat, so they openly shared information with me — and I learned new methods, had my ideas challenged and, yes, often hung up feeling reaffirmed.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.