Giving In or Giving Up?
It's discouraging when you read the numbers. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported last year that the average tenure of a fundraiser at his or her job is 16 months. And earlier this year that same publication had this chilling information: "Half of the chief fundraisers plan to leave their jobs within two years or less. Forty percent are thinking about leaving fundraising entirely."
Now, I've been in fundraising long enough to have earned "dinosaur" status. And I won't lie — all my days haven't been happy. I confess, in my darkest moments, I have fanaticized about being the person who rides on the back of the parking lot shuttle at Disneyland and reminds people to keep their hands, arms, feet and heads inside the car at all times.
But rather than changing careers, I've found a few things that have helped me survive — and yes, even thrive. Check them out, or set this aside for a day when you need it. Maybe there's something here that will help you over the latest hurtle and restore the joy of fundraising to you.
Arm yourself with facts
Someone commented to me a few days ago that he never tells his uncle, a geophysicist, how to do his job — because he (the nephew) has no idea how to be a geophysicist. So why do people who know nothing about fundraising feel empowered to tell fundraisers how to do their jobs?
One way to address those who say things to you like, "I don't know; I'm just not feeling it …" after reading your latest direct-response copy is to be sure you have facts to back up what's working in fundraising these days. Choose reliable sources like the Atlas of Giving, The Blackbaud Index or articles in this publication written by seasoned pros. Explain what is working in fundraising, and insist that following the best practices is the best way to raise money.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.