Career Keys Blog

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At some point in our nonprofit careers, we’ve likely heard a board member or executive director (ED) talk about challenges facing their organization. Those remarks can contain the frustration of not feeling heard, valued, or supported. What can be done to remind EDs and board members that we’re all on the same team? After over a decade fundraising, I’ve worn both hats as an ED and volunteer board member for other organizations and used these questions to help understand the other’s perspective. For EDs working with board members: While board service is a significant commitment, volunteers appreciate the proactive steps that make it easy for them to ...
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Last year, none of us knew what we were facing when the announcement came that our team was required to go home to work due to this thing called the COVID-19 pandemic. We cancelled a much-anticipated donor gathering scheduled for the weekend, packed up our offices, and vowed to see each other in a few weeks. At that point, only a few of us were familiar with virtual meeting platforms like Teams or Zoom.Terms like PPE, super-spreader events, and social distancing became part of our everyday vernacular. Quickly Pivoting The team at HSHS St. John’s Foundation, at the time, had eight full-time employees. Quickly, we began making plans to adapt. How could ...
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There is a plethora of priceless ways you can promote motivation and happiness in the workplace. The common misconception is that a high-performing environment needs a big budget for incentives and other superficial tangibles.   What if I told you there are activities and habits you can adopt in your workplace culture that will yield immeasurable benefits at little to no cost?   The key is finding creative ways to trigger natural happy chemicals.   Happy chemicals motivate and inspire us to do productive and positive things in our personal and professional lives. The bonus? We feel good about it!   Think of happy chemicals as D.O.S.E.   D ...
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Setting your junior fundraising staff up for success begins with you. Properly onboarding new hires from day one ensures they understand your organization’s procedures and success metrics.   Most importantly, it’s your opportunity to show your freshest team members you value their skill set and are ready to help them flourish. This is the time to establish expectations and help your new staff person gain a firm grasp of their role.   Read on for useful onboarding tips from five CFREs around the world.   Jennifer Atkinson, CFRE, Canada When onboarding a junior member of your fundraising team, it’s important to consider how much time you have to ...
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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. ...
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We’ve all had that sinking feeling before. You just nailed a presentation to your board of directors or submitted a perfect grant proposal, yet you can’t quite seem to shake the feeling that you could have done more or that someone more qualified could have done better. If this sounds familiar, you may have experienced impostor syndrome: the low, constant rumbling of insecurity that strikes even the most successful among us. It’s the feeling that you are not good enough, you don’t belong, or that you aren’t worthy of the gift you asked for in that grant proposal. It is important to acknowledge that the symptoms of impostor syndrome may be exacerbated in fundraising ...
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A global pandemic, job uncertainty, and adjusting to a new way of working can all result in taking time to reassess your career. Is it time for a change? Is now the right time to become a self-employed fundraising consultant?   It can be scary, taking that leap. It was certainly something I’d been seriously considering but was still so unsure about if it was the right thing to do. Then I was advised that my role was to be disestablished. Although there was a role for me in the new structure, I took it as a sign.   There are certainly advantages to working for yourself. You have flexible working hours, (ideal if kids are sick or you want to attend school ...
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Searching for a leadership-level fundraising position can be a competitive and frustrating process. Authenticity and honesty during the interview process is assumed – until you learn the hard way. Years ago, I interviewed for a senior level VP position at an organization for which I would be the third development leader in three years (first red flag). I was also told during the interview process that one of the staff members would be leaving, another was a consultant, and one position was vacant (second red flag). I was informed no changes would be made so that I could build my own team. Every leadership volunteer I met with told me the CEO is terrific ...
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Being offered an interview is your greenlight to start heavily researching the organization, if you haven’t already. Don’t skimp on this critical aspect of the job hunt. Check out our tips so you can go into the interview with your eyes wide open. Tip 1: Google everyone you may be closely working with before your first interview I once worked for a nonprofit where the director of development had previously done a stint in federal prison. You read that right. I was in my sixth week on the job when an intern handed me his phone. “Did you know about this?” My eyes widened as I scrolled the page. There it was in pixelated black and white. The director ...
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Even if you’re a wallflower, it must be your objective to stand out when job seeking. You need to have the most compelling, interesting, and strongest resume possible to compete in a new or crowded job market. Before you fall victim to the shortcut of using the same resume you did last time you were on the job hunt, ask yourself, “Am I really putting my best me forward?” If you need to rework, retool, reconstruct, or completely rewrite your professional resume, steer clear of these common resume errors: Failing to tailor your resume to the specific job posting. Job postings are written to attract the “right” candidates that match the current and ...
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For many people, especially fundraising professionals, the end of the year can be a stressful time. You have weather changes, family gatherings, office parties, holiday shopping, annual appeals, and throw in an annual review from your boss. That is enough for anyone to be tossing and turning at night! I am a planner, a list maker. To be honest, sometimes I write down things I have already done just so I can mark them off. The key to my stress level is planning, especially prior to my annual review. Let’s talk about five tips I have learned to help you prepare for your annual review so you get what you want out of it! Data collection Everyone wants ...
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COVID-19, fires, hurricanes, social justice movements, the political scene – to name just a few – have underscored now more than ever the relevance of non-profits and the work we do every day. While many sectors have suffered financial setbacks, non-profits are still hiring, needing to keep their workforces strong and their missions thriving. But how do you “sell” yourself through a computer screen or in a large, impersonal conference room where you and interviewers must maintain your social distance? How can you effectively connect and still make it clear why you’re the best person for the job? The following are must-do’s for any interviewee, and especially ...
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I believe we all entered 2020 with hopes for a great, successful year. Everything seemed to be going along quite well until the middle of March and then the world came to a crashing halt! COVID-19 hit and we weren’t sure what to do next, except hibernate. It is now six months later and we are all trying to get our lives and careers back on track. So now might be a good time to think about finding a mentor, if you do not already have one. What are the next steps? An informative article in Business News Daily suggests there six valuable tips for building a mentor relationship. Tip #1: Identify your goals What do you need to learn to enhance your career ...
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