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An Open Letter From One Fundraiser to Another

By Frances Brooks posted 02-22-2022 15:25



Colleagues and friends,

It has quickly become apparent we are in for another unknown year ahead. And yet, reflecting, when has this not been the case in our careers?

Yes, 2022 seems to be looming as another high-turnover year, dubbed the Great Resignation. In fundraising, sadly, this has been the practice since I started in the field. “Doing more with less” has been the industry standard. With versatility and adaptability as core job expectations, we are up for it.

The tools of donor engagement, while ever-changing, are built on core processes we helped write. If like me, you are closer to 50 than 30, you may recall learning typing in a class, with a live teacher calling off letters QWERTY-style. While this brings a chuckle and likely a dopamine rush, it reminds me we are working in a profession that was not a college elective, let alone a major (and now Ph.D.!). Geoffrey, I did finally figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

We are professional and internationally-credentialed fundraising professionals who thrive on the changes needed to tout our careers as successful. I’m neither ready to retire nor frustrated by the growing complexity of social engagement, even post-COVID. Reminding myself of these realities can be more challenging than picking up the phone to do my tenth cold call to a prospect, which I actually enjoy.

Giving myself a break and seeing the horizon filled with opportunity is authentically who I am. Likely, you are, too. On the days when there are not enough hands to manage all the details, with fondness, we can recall the way we felt upon finishing the CFRE test and seeing the words “You have PASSED.”

Approachability & Authenticity
Evaluating achievement hinges on communicating well and being responsive. In my practice, two priorities have proven key: approachability and authenticity.

The best connection with a donor happens over time. After the phone call ends, what we do with the information gathered propels the next conversation. Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, shares: fundraising success comes through “building honest and genuine relationships based on a heartfelt interest in the mission or cause.” You know your heart and were drawn to the cause you represent.

Your organization’s mission called to you on a level where you stepped forward to accept change and propel growth—for them and yourself. Your prospects are aware of the cause. Are they aware of the need and the impact of their gifts? From the founder to a volunteer, their equity comes from investment in the mission. Their effort makes your job possible, even when it is challenging.

Trust in Yourself
We all know there are days, and then there are days. Today, trust yourself to articulate the needs that best suit the donor and their interest in the mission. This is the core function of your role. At the end of the day, the success we find in this role comes down to trusting ourselves and advocating for that intersection.

Don’t let the circumstances of 2022 get you down.

This career holds promise and the next investment in the mission needs your passion, your zest, and your authentic voice.