Giving In or Giving Up?
And yes, this is why continuing education is important. Read. Listen to webinars. Take classes. Seek a mentor. Even if your employer can't (or won't) pay for it, investing in yourself is a strategy that can pay off in the future (financially, maybe, but definitely in your feeling of pride in yourself).
Don't be afraid to push back
When the goals given to you are absurd or the copy edits have sucked any hope of success out of your appeal, give your blood pressure time to return to normal and then explain (respectfully) why the other person is wrong. Yes, this is difficult if this is your boss or a board member, but giving in isn't going to make the impossible come true. And the end result is probably going to be ugly. Choose your battles, and make sure it's clear that you will work as hard as possible to make whatever it is that is being asked of you successful, but you as a fundraising professional have serious concerns.
Be your own biggest cheerleader
Don't wait until the once-a-year (or less frequent) review to reflect on what you have done well. It's sometimes difficult to remember that great idea that turned around a dismal fundraising program or that test you proposed that resulted in much better net income. So keep a running "self-evaluation" — either in an actual document or in a file where you put reminders of your successes. Then, without being a braggart, highlight the improvements in your fundraising program from time to time. You don't have to say, "I did this," but simply send a memo that says, "Here are ways we have improved our fundraising program in the last quarter."
Know when it's time
Sometimes it is time to move on. We all have reasons we have left a job, of course, but there are times when fundraisers are left with no other choice. If you are being required to do something unethical even though you have explained why it is such, you should think long and hard about your next career move. If you no longer believe in the mission of the organization or how your employer is carrying out its work, you are probably going to be ineffective as a fundraiser. If you are given impossible goals and feel you are being "hung out to dry," it may be time to look elsewhere.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.