If I Had to Do It All Over Again ...
Michelle, one of the regular readers of Today in Fundraising, recently asked me some questions that have been great thought-provokers for me. No, I am not ignoring you, Michelle — but I decided to answer a few of your questions via this column. After all, there probably are a few more people out there asking the same things (or maybe they should be)!
First, just a bit of context. Michelle did her first fundraising event in high school and is now in her first development job after completing college. So, early in her career, she's wisely thinking maybe she could pick the brain of an old dog like me and avoid a few of the dumb mistakes I've made along the way. Or just maybe, I will have a bit of insight to guide her as she follows her own heart as a fundraiser. So, Michelle and everyone else, let's jump in!
No. 1: What are five things you would tell fledgling development professionals?
First, fundraising is a never-ending job. You can always review copy one more time, make another call, go over the details of an event yet again, etc. So you have to learn when to let it go. Sometimes (and I hate to say this, but it's true), good enough is good enough.
Secondly, choose your battles. You won't prevail on everything, so decide what really matters and fight for that — and let the rest go. Otherwise you'll burn out and leave the development profession altogether. You can do so much good if you learn where your energy is best invested.
Third, try new things on your own; don't wait to be sent to training or to be coached. Nonprofits often have small to nonexistent training budgets and little time to cross-train; if you wait, you will stagnate.
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.