By Phil Gérard
I felt compelled to write this today because of two conversations this week with aspiring yet disillusioned fundraisers.
Of the many rewarding moments in my job is when I meet promising, talented individuals who have an interest in breaking into the field of fundraising and I can just tell they have a great future ahead…
Unfortunately, there seems to be an uninspiring attitude out there for this next generation of fundraisers, coming from some members of the fundraising community.
Twice this week alone, I have heard from such promising individuals that the advice they have received from professionals in the field, is that it is tough to get in. Your best bet is to volunteer for at least a year with an organization until they maybe give you an entry level job.
In my opinion, this is very old-school thinking, and is sending the wrong message. In order to be one of us you need to make a sacrifice and work for nothing before we consider you worthy of entering our profession. Dan Pallotta would love this one!
What I think the message needs to be, and I continue to emphasize it to aspiring fundraisers, is this: Put yourself out there, go to AFP minglers and breakfasts, sell yourself, and keep trying – keep trying! I’m not saying that it is easy. Networking for a months and applying for 20 positions may not do it. So don’t give up easily. Education is not enough to position yourself in a competition. Don’t wait until you graduate from a fundraising program to start your search. The whole package is important. Get a job as soon as you can, continue to sharpen your skills through education and continuing education and most importantly start raising some money!
I have met several individuals who kept trying and one day called me up excitedly to tell me that they got a job in fundraising! It is definitely not impossible! It’s like with everything else, those who are persistent and focused on the prize will succeed eventually.
It’s very much like we say in fundraising – activity will lead to success!