Tag Archives: professional development

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.

Professional development pays dividends

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, training, professional development, nonprofit staff developmentWe were reviewing a proposal for a client this week and noticed in the funder’s guidelines a request for information about the organization’s ongoing training and professional development activities, and the budget for these. Needless to say there was silence in the room. Having worked with organizations for a long time we know that nonprofits are often overwhelmed by the information funders want to see in a proposal. We could feel their pain, and almost read their minds, “What??##@@?!??”

And yet we thought it was an important question: funders want to know the extent to which an organization invests in its people, and builds the capacity to address community needs in an ever-changing environment. People are at the core of the nonprofit sector, and investments in people are a sign of organizational health. Exposing employees and volunteers to best practices encourages each to grow to their highest level.

Don’t let training and professional development be seen as a “cost” by those who seek to keep budgets lean. There’s a flip side: the people you serve, your board members and local stakeholders will all eventually know whether you care about your employees and volunteers or if you don’t. It shows in your strategies, services, and technology. Are you “just getting by” or is your organization thriving. It’s expensive to “save” on training and professional development. The nonprofit “revolving door” is often attributed to employees not feeling valued, not having the tools to be successful, and not having access to training and best practices.

But where does the money come from? It is clear to us that so many organizations – especially those that are grassroots or emerging – often have a difficult time securing funds for operations, let alone professional development. But it must be done. And done with accountability and an eye to being fiscally savvy. Training doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few suggestions.

First, invest in webinars. High quality webinars provide opportunities for team members, volunteers and board members to learn together. They reduce travel costs and travel time. For fundraising training consider www.fundraising123.org/training.

Second, determine how the information will be shared prior to investing in online or in-person professional development. How will employees share what they have learned with others? How will a manager or executive know the information was of value, or is being put to use? Decide these things in advance and refine to ensure relevancy.

Remember this: your volunteer leadership can assess whether or not your institution invests in its people. They know because many are also working with other nonprofits, and can make comparisons. When they realize you don’t have the right people in position to do the nonprofit’s work, their attention will drift to other organizations where attention is paid to grooming and growing personnel.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles 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.