At one point or another, many of us reflect on our fundraising careers and ask ourselves some simple questions:
“Am I in the right fundraising job?”
“Should I look for another position that pays more, offers better opportunities for advancement, etc.”
“What will I do if I’m not promoted this year?”
Whatever your answers to these questions, think twice before accepting a new fundraising position.
During today’s COVID pandemic, you may feel your current fundraising position is devalued. Perhaps you feel bored and want a fresh challenge, or you’ve already been approached by another organization with what sounds like a better fundraising position. Or, maybe your organization has communicated to you that your fundraising position is being eliminated and you are already seeking your next opportunity.
Whatever the situation, here are some tips to consider before accepting a new fundraising position.
- Ask yourself, “Why am I seeking a new position?” Many times, we think the grass is greener on the other side. As we also know, this is often not the case. Rather than focusing too much energy on a new opportunity, spend some time thinking about why you’re so interested in leaving your current position. Are you not fully satisfied by your current job and if so, can you make it better?
- As you evaluate a new fundraising position, consider the following before accepting an offer of employment and if you have any doubts, step back and think twice.
- What are the organization’s mission, values, and goals? Do you feel connected to these goals and objectives and do you believe in the mission of the new organization?
- Does the fundraising department/team appear to be a stable environment for its employees? Unless the fundraising department is under current reorganization, about 50 percent of the team should have been in place for at least a few years. Don’t be shy in asking about past turnover and position vacancy rates.
- Does the new organization have a positive image? What are you hearing/reading about the organization in the community? If the public image is not positive, it will greatly impact your ability to identify and cultivate donor relationships.
- Does the new organization have competent and experienced fundraising leadership? Good fundraising leaders have the skills and know-how to lead a fundraising team to success. During the interview process, if you don’t feel confident in the leadership of the fundraising team or if the top fundraising position has been vacant for several months, re-evaluate how the organization values fundraising. You can also ask others about fundraising leadership with general questions such as, “How are fundraising leaders perceived by the organization” or, “Why is the chief fundraising position vacant?”
- Commonly, fundraising experts believe hosting a special event and/or upgrading an annual giving program can boost fundraising results and attract positive exposure for the organization. However, experienced fundraisers know it can take at least several years to ramp up programs for major gifts and planned giving. If you’re seeking a new fundraising position, will the new organization give you the time to succeed? What results will they expect in six months, one year, and beyond?
If you’ve already left a fundraising position due to your own decision to resign or due to other separation factors, it’s obviously important to assess your own personal situation. Do you have available financial and emotional resources to conduct a quality new job search?
In today’s uncertain employment environment, it’s understandable you might feel forced to accept a new position due to financial considerations and other personal and family needs.
Even if you feel pressured to take the first offer you receive, still carefully evaluate the new role so you can make the smartest possible decision. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself because you are making an important career decision that can have both positive and negative long-standing impact.
If you’re looking for a new position, here’s what’s on your side. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fundraising jobs are expected to grow 14 percent from 2019 to 2029 which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The COVID pandemic will obviously impact these statistics. However, it appears that there are still many not-for-profit agencies seeking qualified fundraising experience.
Stay positive and think twice before you make a move.