The possibility of a new position as a fund development or fundraising professional brings excitement and anticipation. A new position could mean the opportunity to “finally” put one’s professional skills to use. Maybe with a new position there will be greater opportunities to implement best practices and to meet – or even exceed – goals. Maybe, and maybe not. There are so many variables that impact a professional’s ability to work his or her craft, most of which are beyond their control. If you are considering a new position don’t let the allure of “greener pastures” keep you from researching your potential employer. Here are five things to consider before accepting a fundraising position.
- Organization’s or institution’s mission, vision, value, goals. Do you know what these are? Are they consistently communicated by all parties during your interviews? Do you agree with these? Will they motivate you day-after-day?
- Job description, turnover in the position, budget and resources you will have to work with. During your interviews ask questions about the job description: what percentage of your time will be allocated to the different responsibilities? How much time will be spent on “other duties as assigned?” What budget and resources will you have? Will you control their use or will you need the approval of others? What has been the tenure of other individuals in the position over the past 10 years? What were the reasons for their departure?
- Leadership stability and local/national recognition. Is the president or CEO recognized as a leader in his/her field? How long has he/she held the position? The previous executive? What role does the board play in fundraising? How much do they give and raise collectively each year?
- Planning tools, their use and track record/results. Does the organization actively engage in planning and then work from those plans? Are the following in place: financial plan, business plan (including sustainability and growth projections), strategic plan, fundraising plan? What is its financial status? Is fundraising proactive and volunteer driven or is there a history of “emergency fundraising?”
- Public perception. How is organization perceived by local/regional/national leaders, decision makers and funders? What do the people served think of the organization? When you do a Google search, what do you find? What do your neighbors say?
You may find yourself applying for your “dream job.” Don’t let the glow of your expectations stop you from taking a close look at organizational realities. Your negotiating power is typically greatest before you join an organization, so do your homework and negotiate a position and environment you want to work in. Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer: doing so may be the right decision.
Next week: Five things to consider when hiring a fundraising professional
Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.
Where was this article when I started 24 years ago?
Exactly! That’s what we are saying: when you don’t know what to ask, you may think a position is a great opportunity?!!?! But Bobby what we know about you is you make every situation work! We admire your creativity in the face of “no.”