Tag Archives: fundraising career

Your fantasy fundraiser

Tired of hearing about fundraising challenges? Maybe it’s time to hire your fantasy fundraiser!

Fantasy fundraiser Saad&ShawThe work of your nonprofit is critically important. You’re helping young people choose the right path in life. You are challenging new forms of discrimination and civil rights violations. The teenagers enrolled in your math and science program are the engineers of tomorrow. Our seniors are protected from fraud and abuse thanks to your organization. And disaster relief is provided around the globe because of volunteers here in the United States.

Your nonprofit’s mission and vision are the drivers for important work. Volunteer efforts play a critical role. Yet, many times your work requires cold hard cash. Why doesn’t the money just show up? And, why, if you hire a fundraiser – or a fundraising team – can’t they meet the ever increasing fundraising goal?

Tired of reality? Let’s play fantasy fundraising! It’s easy and fun. You can hire anyone you want to do anything you want for your nonprofit. The sky’s the limit. Do you need a fundraising professional who can produce the most unique and exciting event ever heard of? One who can also market value-rich sponsorship packages and sell out the event? Write that down.

What about a professional who can build a social media presence and sustain an engaged following for your university or college? Someone who interacts with your young alumni, keeps them up to date, creates fun and competitive giving opportunities and – at the end of the year – shows you a documented increase in alumni giving. Write that down.

Maybe your fantasy is a fundraising professional who is a well connected multi-tasker. She knows everybody. Young professionals and highly placed executives admire her and want to be in her presence. She is a wiz at technology and in just two weeks identifies the right software to run your fundraising back office, tests its reporting functions, migrates existing data, finds those old spreadsheets and enters all the data into the new system. She also finds that stack of business cards, knows everyone personally, places a call to each, records their interests and sends each a copy of your most recent newsletter. At lunch she secures two $50,000 gifts. You love her!

We all have fundraising dreams. We want the money to show up so we can focus on the important work of the organizations and institutions we believe in. It’s understandable. Fundraising is hard work. It requires planning and the right team of professionals and volunteers. And, it can be undermined by fundraising fantasies.

Fantasy thinking can keep us focused on wishes instead of plans. The difference is this: wishes come true magically; plans require involvement, creativity and consistency.

Take the time to dream big and then take the time to plan. Your dreams can come true.

Image courtesy of digitalart 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.

9 Ways to Keep Your Dream Job a Blessing

Friend or Foe Networking

 

You’ve landed your dream job. Your next step: make sure it doesn’t become a nightmare. Consider these nine ways to tap your network.

 

  1. When sharing news of your new position with friends and family, don’t forget to ask for guidance. Most people want to support your success: the biggest challenge is asking the right people for the right things. Don’t ask one person for everything you want to know. Ask one or two questions from a diversity of people in your network.
  2. Consider those areas that might be a challenge in your new position. Request recommendations for conferences and workshops your peers have found valuable. There are many to choose from, but an experienced fundraiser, executive or college president will refer you to ones that are specifically relevant to your position, rich in content, and that include opportunities to build your network.
  3. Ask for a view of the road ahead. Meet one-on-one with individuals who are more experienced and who have a successful track record. Ask about the obstacles you may be up against, and how to overcome them. Too often we don’t know what we don’t know and then feel “blindsided” by events that are actually par for the course.
  4. Create an advisory council of friends, associates and peers. Call on these people proactively as you develop strategies. Depending on the opportunity you may want to talk with someone who knows your community, or someone from out of town who won’t be competing for the same resources.
  5. Expand your advisors to include people who can help you manage stress. In fundraising – as with many other businesses – stress can take you out. Include your personal trainer, life coach, minister or prayer partner as an advisor.
  6. If you are married or in a committed relationship ask your peers about how they include their spouse in their many work-related commitments and how they protect their relationship from the strains that a fundraising career can impose. Ask now, don’t wait until the stresses pile up.
  7. Create a “listening tour.” Talk to people in your department, across the organization and community. Learn the good and the bad related to your position and ask “how can I be most successful?” If possible, talk with your predecessor.
  8. Put what you learn to practice. After all the talking create a plan for your first three months on the job. Map out how you will use the guidance and information you have gained.
  9. Once on the job, create a climate where people can make suggestions. Whether the old fashioned suggestion box or its electronic counterpart, stay open to suggestions and you will grow in your career.

Whether taking a position as a development director, data manager, or executive director the time to ask – and listen, listen, listen – is now.

Image courtesy of stockimages 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.

Five Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nonprofit Fundraising Professional

 fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, job search, fundraising jobs, job interview, how to interview a fundraiser, fundraising career, how to hire a fundraiser If you need to hire a fundraising professional you are in good company. This is one of the hardest positions to fill. It is even harder to retain a talented fundraiser. We have written extensively on these topics over the years because they are a major issue confronting the nonprofit sector.

The number of experienced fund development and fundraising professionals is much smaller than the pool of organizations that need such people. The pool of talent gets even smaller when looking for people who have experience with a diversity of fundraising methods. It is most challenging when looking for an individual who can manage the fundraising function for your organization or institution. This is coupled by a structural challenge: good fundraisers are not necessarily good fundraising managers. Yet the pathway to professional success is often tied to a move from fundraising to management. This is not always a good idea as the strengths of fundraisers are not always the strengths of fundraising managers.

To help you make the right hire, we suggest asking some out of the box questions. Whether you need someone to manage your fundraising, or someone to raise money the questions you ask can influence your hire. Try some of the following:

  1.  What is your history of volunteerism and community involvement? This lets you know a candidate’s appreciation for the nonprofit sector and her understanding of the challenges faced by organizations and volunteers.
  2.  Mentorship and training – who has she been mentored by? Worked under? Which seasoned professional or volunteer has shaped her career? Formal training is hard to come by, but good habits are learned from respected professionals.
  3.  Project development and management – what has your candidate created from scratch? What did she start and manage? Don’t worry about success: you want to learn about her initiative and how she approaches a goal.
  4.  How well has she prepared for the interview? What types of questions does she ask in the interview? Do those questions reflect creative research of your organization? How a candidate prepares for an interview is a clue to how she may approach work with a donor.
  5.  What is her work history and track record? Ask about growth with an organization or within a position; impact of her work; and length at previous positions – has she stayed long enough for organizations to benefit from her tenure? Was she a team player or a loner? Listen to language: do you hear “I raised $99 million in 90 days” or “Together our staff, board and volunteers exceeded our goal.” Does she mention working from a plan? Engaging and supporting volunteers?

Consider these suggestions as you prepare to make your next hire: out-of-the box questions can help you learn what you need to know.

Releated Articles:

1.     How to Hire a Fundraiser  https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2012/08/21/how-to-hire-a-fundraiser/

2.     To Hire or To Plan – Which comes first? https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2011/04/08/hiring-fundraiser/

3.     Fundraising Fables: Retaining fundraising professionals https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2014/07/21/fundraising-fables-retaining-fund-development-professionals/

4.     Your fundraising quarterback: Staff https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2012/02/23/your-fundraising-quarterback-staff/

5.     I’ll take a percentage https://fundraisinggoodtimes.com/2009/06/03/fundraising-ethics/

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.

Five things to consider before accepting a fundraising position

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, job search, fundraising jobs, fundraising careerThe 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.

  1.  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?
  2.  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?
  3.  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?
  4.  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?”
  5.  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.

How to keep a fundraising job

Part two in a two part series.

fundraising, fundraising career, tips for development directors, how to succeed in fundraising, executive director and development director relationships, president and vice president for advancement relationshipsWe have seen nonprofit executive directors and college presidents pull their hair out over their relationship – or lack of a relationship – with their development staff. There are magic words development professionals say that pour gasoline on a slow smoldering fire. Here are a few.

“I don’t have enough staff.” While this may be true, it is not a conversation starter. You must effectively deploy current staff before requesting more. A staffing request should be accompanied by a plan showing how new staff will increase revenue over-and-above the added salary line. “The event was a great friendraiser.” A fundraising event that fails to meet goal is not a successful friendraiser. “We couldn’t meet the proposal deadline….” There is no reason to miss a proposal submission date: plan ahead, and submit in advance.

“The annual appeal didn’t go out until January.” It doesn’t matter that it was ready to go on December 27th. Year end appeals should go out in October. November at the latest. “I am heading up a community solicitation program for the chamber.” Yes, your boss wanted you more involved with the community, but not like this. “Can you meet with a potential, major gift prospect in the next five minutes?” The point is you have to coordinate donor and funder visits with your executive. “I have a personality conflict with the chair of the alumni association.” Managing relationships is a key responsibility for a development professional. You cannot alienate one of your most important constituencies.

“The person with that information is out on sick leave.” This classic drives executives crazy. It doesn’t matter that it’s true: you need backup systems and cross-trained staff. “We are waiting on ABC foundation to take us over the top.” Too often this is the gift that never arrives. Don’t wait for a gift to make your goal: keep working a pool of prospects with the capacity to give three times your goal. “We made goal, but all gifts are restricted.” We know this is an exaggeration, but there’s a grain of truth: be careful with gift counting.

Here are a few other favorites: “Can you attend a check presentation of $1,000 in Chicago?” “I can’t tell you how much we raised because of a computer problem.” “Mr. Longwinded volunteered to make remarks at the grand opening.” Two more that are sure to annoy: asking for a raise when you haven’t met an agreed-upon, reasonable fundraising goal, and offering one-of-a-kind naming opportunities to more than one donor.

Here’s a tip for fundraisers who want to strengthen their relationship with their executive: You are the “subject matter expert”: Suggest potential solutions instead of leading with problems. Provide a weekly report with funds raised, prospects contacted, and important dates to remember.

Photo credit: Briana Miller http://breakcomics.blogspot.com

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.