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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dear Charity: I'm So Over You.

Dear Charity,
I could beat around the bush on this, but I probably should just get to the point.

I'm breaking up with you.

I could say, "It's me, not you," but let's be honest. This is about you.

You were really nice in the beginning. I gave you a modest donation and I got a great and prompt thank you note. I thought, "Wow, good manners." There were other charities that weren't so quick to respond...I only gave to them once.

Then, you were really good about communicating with me. You sent me emails, newsletters, and invitations to parties. You even checked in with me personally every now and then. Even when I didn't respond to everything, you kept in touch. I liked that I could learn more about you and what you were doing. I felt like I knew you.

After a while, I thought, you know, I'm ready for a more steady commitment with this charity. I don't make these decisions lightly, but I thought you were a keeper. So I increased my giving to join your ongoing monthly giving program.

At first, you showered attention on me. You thanked me for increasing my commitment. You gushed about how valuable I was. You even gave me a little gift for joining the club.

And then, after about a year, the attention stopped.

I didn't get any letters or special communication. You didn't personally call on me. It was like I didn't exist. Oh sure, you charged my credit card every month, but I didn't hear from you like I did before.

I invested all this time and resources in you. I demonstrated that I cared. And I got pushed aside for the newer donor.

It's hard feeling washed up in our relationship so soon.

So in spite of the fact that I really still care about what you do and how you change the world, I simply can't be in this relationship anymore. It's too hard for me to give so much and get back so little.

I'm sure you'll find others like me who are willing to support you. But please, don't let my relationship with you be in vain. Spend a little more time with them. Make sure they know that they are appreciated and wanted. Always deliver what you promise. Make them feel valued. Don't push them away like you pushed me away.

You'll always have a special place in my philanthropic journey, but it's better for both of us if I move on.

Good luck,
Your Former Donor

PS: Have you talked to a long-time or monthly donor recently? If not, do it NOW.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Are You Satisfied With Your Career?

"Are you satisfied with your career?" asked Joan Black, CFRE, a highly experienced and respected fundraiser based in Calgary, Alberta.

The small group of us around the table smiled.

"No, that's a real question," Joan said. "Are you?"

The five of us were participating in strategic planning for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada at their annual summer retreat. Gradually, most began to answer her question, but I didn't know what to say.

At another point in time, I would have answered, "Of course, yes." I work in the charitable sector. We do good work. We do noble work, according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu!

What does "satisfied with your career" really mean?

To define this for myself, I turned to my favorite job satisfaction measurement tool, the Gallup Q12. This is a list of 12 yes or no statements that are indicators of job satisfaction.

Preliminary question: what are the elements of "my career?" 
My career is not just what I get paid to do; it includes what I do in my volunteer life, too. In my case, my volunteer work is equally, sometimes more, important to my paid work.

The 12 questions (modified a little)
Q1: In the last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.
Q2: In the last six months, someone has talked with me about my progress.
Q3: I have a best friend at work.
Q4: My associates are committed to doing quality work.
Q5: The mission of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
Q6: In my work, my opinions seem to count.
Q7: There is someone (in my career) who encourages my development.
Q8: Someone (in my career) seems to care about me as a person.
Q9: In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Q10: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
Q11: I have the tools I need to do my work right.
Q12: I know what's expected of me at work.

I can confidently say that I can answer "yes" to having a best friend at work (#3); my associates are committed to quality work (#4); I feel like my work is important (#5); and someone seems to care about me as a person (#8). But the other questions, I'm on the cusp. Some of this I can control--I can find opportunities to learn and grow (#1); I can acquire new tools to do my job (#11).

The others require outside feedback. I was surprised that I couldn't honestly answer "yes" to many, until I separated my paid work and my volunteer work. I could answer "yes" for my paid work (#6, #7, #9, #10), but not for my volunteer work. Since both my paid and unpaid work are equally important to me, I realized that I need to examine and rearrange what I do for my service.

I didn't expect to be so self-reflective as a result of an organizational strategic planning session, but I am grateful to Joan Black and our session facilitator, Juanita Gledhill, MCC Group, for triggering my introspection.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

7 Signs It's Time to Look for a New Fundraising Job

Over the past year, we've worked with several people who have been in job transition--sometimes by choice, many times not. All of those who were job hunting not by choice were highly qualified, seasoned professionals who were actually accomplishing their goals. In some cases, they were even exceeding the expectations set for them.

So we started thinking--what were the signs that things weren't going to end well? Here are seven red flags:

Your goals are moving targets. As you approach achieving what you're told to do, your manager changes the goal or changes the way your accomplishments so far have been measured. You're set up to never achieve closure on your projects.

No one shows an interest in your work. Yes, they'll glance at your reports, and question your tactics every now and then, but on the whole, they don't seem to think what you do matters. "I don't do fundraising" or "fundraising is not my responsibility" are common refrains among your staff and volunteer leaders.

You can't identify a single person that you work with that you trust and feel is a genuine friend. There may be people you like, and people that you sometimes hang out with, but you can't name anyone that you trust to truly have your back. They won't stand up for you if something goes wrong, especially come budget time. They are also people who talk about your friendship, but you know in your heart that if you went away, they would not just go to lunch with you for fun.

Your ideas don't seem to be valued. Every time you bring up a new strategy or idea, your suggestion is "put on the back burner," never to be seen again. New ideas that you manage to implement are not acknowledged as your idea.

Your organization doesn't invest in your advancement. You don't get promoted or get increased pay or recognition even when others do. You've hit a "glass ceiling" of sorts.

You don't feel like you fit in with the organization's culture. Perhaps you did at one time, but for some reason, on a gut level, you don't feel like you do now. Maybe there was a change in leadership on the staff or board side. Maybe there's a change with your peer group. Maybe there's a change in organizational direction. Whatever the reason, you don't feel like you fit in.

Someone's out to get you. Okay, this last one is rare. But sometimes it's obvious that someone important doesn't like you.

If you have several or all of these red flags, take the time to quantify what you've accomplished at that position, and make them as concrete as possible. Brush up that resume and update your LinkedIn and other online profiles. Rev up the networking machine and talk to your personal supporters. Good luck finding the next job which hopefully will give you the respect and recognition that you deserve!


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