Time To Take Charge Of Your Career: Interview With Mazarine Treyz

By Phil Gerard

Mazarine, thank you very much for your time today to talk a little bit about the upcoming Fundraising Career Conference. It is the third annual already and I look forward to being part of it again this year. I understand 900 people have been taught at the conference so far?

MT: Yes, it is so exciting. Thanks for having me.

PG: Of course! To start things off tell us a little bit about your own journey.

MT: Sure. I started out as an intern at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York City after college, and that was my first internship and first introduction to development. After that, I bounced around a little bit. I worked in New York at The Economist, then I went to Indonesia to visit a college friend and worked in his baby orphanage in Jakarta, and also volunteered with some mobile health clinics in Jakarta’s poorest slums. That is where I learned how to write my first grant. I also wrote some newsletters and I realized that I wanted to use my writing to help people raise the money they need to do all this amazing work. So I came back to the US and learned everything I could about fundraising, took all these classes, and then I co-founded a nonprofit called the Moon Balloon Project in Boston in 2005.

After that I started working full-time at different nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest including at an animal shelter as a Development Assistant, a domestic violence shelter for women and children as a Development Associate, and for a social justice nonprofit as a Development Officer. Then I went down to Austin, Texas and worked as a Development Director for an orchestra.

After all of that, I decided to hang up my shingle, become a consultant, and that was the beginning of writing my books and the Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising. As I kept blogging, I realized that I had a passion for fundraising careers. Specifically, I felt that many fundraisers were never taught how to negotiate their salary or how to work with a recruiter, or how to succeed once we are in a fundraising role. So I wrote a book called Get The Job: Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide. After the positive reception to that I decided that I wanted to do even more. That’s why I created the Fundraising Career Conference.

PG: We know that there is a lot of turnover in the fundraising profession. Why do you think people are fired or are leaving their fundraising jobs early?

MT: This is a big issue in our profession. The Underdeveloped Report in 2013 from CompassPoint, Penelope Burk’s Cygnus Applied Research Group, and the Vault Career Guide for Fundraising and Philanthropy have discussed this and what all seem to agree on is that there are tremendous expectations for people in fundraising roles, often being the sole fundraiser. Also frequently, the leadership of the organization does not have a fundraising background, which can lead to a lack of trust and that again can lead to people either leaving or being fired. At the Fundraising Career Conference this year we will talk about how to deliberately build trust with your boss. We have never had this session before so I am particularly excited about this one. We will also have a session on how to ask the right questions in your interview so that you know right away if the people you will be working for have realistic expectations for this role or not. 

PG:  What do you think people can do to succeed in their fundraising careers?

MT: This is such a big question, Phil. I wrote a whole book about that. But seriously, it is really about the long haul. How do you not only rise in your career, but mentor other people, be a good leader and manage other people effectively. At the conference Peter Drury, Director of Corporate Giving with Seattle Hospital will address this in his session.

I really feel that one of the main things people can do to be a successful fundraiser is to become curious about who they really are as a person. Because if you know yourself, you will be able to overcome your natural inclination to turn away from things that are difficult or that do not come easy to you. For a lot of us in fundraising, we have to do many different tasks that we are not good at, as well as the things that we really enjoy, at least in the beginning. So knowing yourself, you will be able to figure out what you want to focus on in your career, and where you can be the most successful. For some it might be major gifts and for others it might be annual giving. Others might be really good at writing grants. Find out what your strengths are.

PG: Is the Fundraising Career Conference only for junior fundraisers or will senior fundraisers benefit as well?

MT:  Sure. There will be sessions geared at every level of seniority. I mentioned the session with Peter Drury about being a better manager  already. Another session is on authentic communication with Pearl Waldorf. She is going to be talking about how to hold space for people to really communicate effectively in a real way in your office. We will also have a session on how to be a successful consultant. So if you are a senior person, there will be a number of sessions that you will never have seen before and may never see again. If you are a junior fundraiser, we will still have all of the topics that you have come to expect including how to write a better résumé, how to write a better cover letter, improving your interview skills, what employers and recruiters want to see in a fundraiser, and how to work with a recruiter. In a nutshell, we are going to look at some high level stuff and the 101 stuff we will cover in our bonus materials that are part of the conference.

PG: What is different at the conference this year from last year?  

MT: This year we focus on integration. What I mean by that is, your boss and you are a team. How can you feel more comfortable with your team and really feel like you are all in this together? It is not going to be about us versus them. It is about we. For example we will have a session with Sheena Greer about how we can use fun and creativity to become more effective in achieving our fundraising goals.

PG: If someone is happy with their job right now, is that a reason not to come to the conference?

MT: You should come – happy or unhappy! If you are unhappy in your job you will get the tools you need to get a different job and better job. But if you are happy in your job, you should still come. Last year, we had an incredibly powerful session with Megan Godorov about salary negotiation. We are going to have that again this year. Because of that session, one attendee increased her salary by 42%. So even if you have a job you are happy with we will be able to teach you tactics to help you negotiate a better deal for yourself at your next review whether it is more vacation time or more discretionary money for continuing education, or any number of things aside from salary if that’s not negotiable right now.

PG: It sounds like a good return on investment which reminds me, how much is the conference?

MT: Until February 27th, it is just $67 US for a three-day full conference. You have to use the coupon code YOURULE100 to get this special price otherwise it will be $167. So use that code! After February 27th, it is going to go up to $97 US. So it is really good to get in now.

PG: And the great thing is that you do not have to travel anywhere. The conference is all virtual.

MT: Yes! So no matter where you are, Calgary, Toronto, Halifax, or Vancouver, it does not matter because it is online. So you can attend from your desk at work. You can attend in your pajamas. You can be anywhere. If you cannot make any one of the sessions because it is during the work week, do not worry about it. We are recording every single one for you. So you can watch them all later and our presenters have graciously agreed to let you email them afterwards to ask any questions as well. You will have access to all the recordings by the end of April. There is also a little ebook that you (Phil) and I wrote together last year, which will be part of the bonus materials this year. We will talk about career pathing and the skills you need to get to the next stage. Whatever that next stage is.

PG: So how do we sign up?

MT: Just go to http://register.fundraising-career-conference.com

PG: Perfect. Thank you again, Mazarine. I look forward to the conference, and I look forward to seeing everybody there!

MT: Thank you so much for interviewing me, Phil.

Mazarine Treyz is the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Social Media and Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide. She has received 5 star reviews from Nonprofit.About.com. Her popular blog has over 50,000 monthly readers. She taught fundraising to over 8,000 people from 2011 to the present.  What results have people had from her training?  See some success stories. To get in touch, visit http://wildwomanfundraising.com/contact

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