3 tips for your fundraising career

1. Always add value.

The best way to ensure that you have a job all the time is to make it a point to consistently try to add value to the lives of all the people with whom you come in contact. Everyone! Always!

That includes the waitress, the janitor, and the guy who parks your car. At work, that means you should always look around for ways to help other people (including donors, colleagues, board members, and associates) get what they want.

Doing so creates a mystical boomerang effect. I swear it’s true! The more you do for others, the more people (not always the ones you helped) will do for you.

I know, it sounds mysterious but I promise you it just works! There are amazing unexplained forces in the universe. Nature and physics. Gravity and black holes. This is one of them too! Don’t argue with it. Just accept it.

2. Become a linchpin.

Figure out ways to make yourself indispensable to your co-workers, your boss, his or her boss, other departments, your company, etc.

Do more than is expected. Go in early, stay late. Be coachable and cooperative. Be ethical. Arrive at meetings on-time. Be prepared. Have a fantastic positive attitude (even when you don’t feel like it). Exude passion, energy, optimism and friendliness. Use positive body language (sit up straight, walk briskly, stay alert, etc.). Be a team player. Don’t talk about others behind their backs. Avoid office politics.

3. Set goals and make plans.

Decide who you really want to be. Assess your talents and skills. Consider how you can add value to other people’s lives and become indispensable. Plus, think about what will make you happiest.

Then, imagine your dream job and make it a point to write down (at the top of a piece of paper or GoogleDoc) precisely what kind of job you want. Describe what it looks like (including your surroundings and types of co-workers), and decide exactly how much money you want to earn.

Next, create a deadline. By when do you want to achieve that result? The deadline is very important.

Also, you must write all of this down. Hopes and dreams happen in our minds. Results happen because goals and plans were written down, clearly imagined, and planned with end-dates (deadlines).

Now that you’ve got all that finished, finally, work backwards to determine what you must do in order to accomplish your goal and create a list. This list will become your plan.

I promise, this works!

I have gone through exactly this process for decades.

In fact, I still have all of the goals and plans I wrote down decades ago. It’s fun to look back on them because doing so reminds me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, imagine it, write it down, make plans and set deadlines.

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Jim Spencer
Jim Spencer
4 years ago

I would add to “Be a linchpin” – don’t attempt to make yourself look good by making your colleagues look bad. By this I mean, don’t undercut your colleague in hopes that you will look better. It really only confuses the donors and make them think less of the organization. Been sabotaged a few times by such individuals. Luckily they moved on pretty quickly.

Rachel Gitner
Rachel Gitner
4 years ago

I agree that “become a lynchpin” is tricky. I have had colleagues that try to make themselves indispensable by hoarding work and relationships with donors, and by making sure no else can do the work but them. This is really not helpful to the organization but technically achieves the goal of “becoming a lynchpin.”

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