Hey, Mom – I Want to be a Fundraiser!

By Phil Gérard

This could be summarized as my vision for the future as a recruiter and talent manager in the fundraising sector, and as someone who simply loves our profession.

Strategic planning experts say that a vision should be achievable – ideally in the next 5 years. Goodness, do we have a lot of work ahead!!

The good news is that AFP Vancouver has created a new committee – Youth in Philanthropy (YIP). I’m excited to be chairing it.

Last year, a YIP taskforce comprised of UBC Development and Alumni Engagement colleagues have started brainstorming ideas on how to reach the next generation of fundraisers (and in their language).

Initial ideas have been

  • Creating collateral material promoting the profession and summarizing the educational pathways (how to actually get there!)
  • Liaising with high school counselors
  • Speaking engagement at university clubs, high school career days
  • Attending career fairs in universities and high schools
  • Start and internship program

We attended two career fairs last year and the interest of the students in the profession was impressive! The question almost everyone asked was: “So, what do I do, what do I study?”

We have to do a lot of work making it easier for up and coming fundraisers to understand what the educational options are and what else to do to be employable.

I invite discussion on this as we are embarking on this YIP initiative in Vancouver. And of course I am recruiting enthusiastic AFP Vancouver members to shine as members of this new committee.

A Job In Fundraising, No Way!?

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!

%d bloggers like this: