Do you Trust your Executive Director?

When I was working full time in fundraising, I ran into a problem.

Maybe you had this problem too?

My boss didn’t seem to trust me.

I would put in the hours, do the work, raise the money, and I would still feel like my boss didn’t trust me.

Then, I started not trusting my boss.

They didn’t understand fundraising, the board didn’t understand fundraising, and I asked myself, why are they in positions of power if they won’t bring money in?

According to J. Berkshire at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 50% of fundraisers in top jobs want to quit, because of their relationship with their boss.

“The blame for such high levels of dissatisfaction among fundraisers must be pinned squarely on charity leaders, says Robbe Healey, a member of the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals who served as a research adviser for the study.

“The reason that organizations have a hard time keeping competent development staff is that too many nonprofit leaders don’t understand fund-raising,” says Ms. Healey, vice president of philanthropy at Simpson Senior Services, a nonprofit retirement community.

In the Vault Career Guide to Fundraising and Philanthropy, the author, Anne McCaw, concludes that in Development Director roles, the pressure can be so great and the expectations can be so outrageous that many people opt for consulting instead of trying to fix what they see as a broken system.

She writes, “These are high pressure positions, responsible for meeting fundraising goals and ensuring that operations run smoothly. Many work long hours and are always in need of more resources. There’s a reason why there is a high turnover and many at this level make the decision to become consultants.”

If you feel like you might be burning out but don’t want to try to be a consultant, what else can you do to stem the tide of unrealistic expectations and build trust?

If you don’t feel like you have your boss’s trust, or if you’re the boss and you don’t feel like you have the trust of your direct reports, what do you do?

How can you gain people’s trust?

In our Online Fundraising Career Conference in April 2017, Marc Pitman and I are going to talk about how to gain people’s trust.

Learning how to deliberately build trust with your boss could make the difference between you lasting 3 years at your next job, or lasting 3 months.

What are some elements of trust?

Trust of character

  • Manage expectations
  • Establish boundaries
  • Delegate appropriately
  • Encourage mutual intentions
  • Keep agreements
  • Be consistent

Trust of communication

  • Share information
  • Tell the truth
  • Admit mistakes
  • Give and receive feedback
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Speak with good purpose

Trust of capability

  • Acknowledge people’s skills and abilities
  • Allow people to make decisions
  • Involve others and seek their input
  • Help people learn skills

 4 Phrases to help you clarify expectations

  1. I’m not sure what you’re looking for. May I have some direction?
  2. I might be off track or going down the wrong road. I’d like to check in with you.
  3. I’d like to understand what you need from me. What is your expectation?
  4. I want to do my best. I’d like to schedule some time to review your expectations and make sure I understand what you need from me.

3 Phrases to help you gain trust with employees

  • Are these expectations realistic? Do you see stumbling blocks I haven’t addressed?
  • Is there anything you see that might become an issue down the road?
  • Before we say goodbye, do you have everything you need from me?

Do you want to more about creating trust in your organization? Come to the Fundraising Career Conference.

Fundraising Career Conference 2016
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