Reinventing your Job

A lot of nonprofit fundraising staff come to me in despair.

My job sucks! They say. I know what best fundraising practices are, but my boss won’t let me do them! HELP!

Is it time for a change?

Are your responsibilities and budget being reduced?
Are you getting no raises?
Are you being shut of out critical decisions and meeting?
Are you getting lukewarm performance reviews?

These all are signs that you should be looking for a new job.

If you’re committed to sticking it out, despite these signs, here are some things you can do to reinvent your job, from Hal Lancaster’s “Promoting Yourself”

1. Figure out what you want

What would make you happier at work? Is there something you want to do more of, like event management, and less of, like grantwriting or data entry? How can you pass these things off? What if you want the title of Development Director? How do you get there?

2. Schedule a meeting with your boss.

This can be outside of review time. Don’t wait for your performance review. This is your show, and your boss isn’t going to prioritize thinking of new ways to help you shine.

3. Ask your boss to analyze your skills and potential.

Where do they think you are strong? Where do they think you are weak? Don’t just jump in and start telling them what you think. Allow them to talk first. (This one is a hard one for me!)

4. Present your own views

Don’t argue, but back yourself up with statistics! Show that you’ve gone above and beyond for your job. And mention what you’ve really enjoyed working on. Negotiate new duties and goals and ways to measure your sucess in reaching those goals. You might even want to draw up a formal contract on those issues.

5. Go for it.

Once your new plan is in place, pursue it aggressively. You should also initiate new projects that will get your boss’s attention and bring you into contact with key managers and donors.

6. Don’t expect radical change immediately.

Your boss might tell you that you need to get more CFRE credits, an advanced degree or some other kind of training to get to the level you want to get to. I know a friend of mine who was working at a branch of a national nonprofit, and her boss said, “Look around you. Everyone here has an advanced degree. Even if it’s an MFA.” This was a clear message to my friend that her bachelor’s degree was not going to cut it if she wanted to move in higher levels of the organization.

Of course, this is something that many people cannot afford to do, and some organizations are rewriting job descriptions so that an advanced degree is not necessary, and they are getting more diverse applicants.

Still, if you are in any doubt about your track record and how people would view you as a leader, it doesn’t hurt to do continuing education classes at the very least.

A friend of mine has her bachelors, an MBA and now wants to go back and get a PhD in Organizational Leadership. She believes this degree will help her be sought after as an employee or a consultant. And I have to admire her dedication to being the best.

Bottom Line: Should you read Promoting Yourself? If you’re a current employee at a nonprofit, or want to be, DEFINITELY. This book can help you think of strategies that will allow you to move on up in your career!

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