Wednesday Jan 11, 2023

Are fundraisers becoming more discerning about where they can thrive?

Alex isn’t kidding when he says it seems like The Chronicle of Philanthropy has been retelling the same story about disillusioned fundraisers for a long time. Those of us who have been around for a while are well aware of the fact that, at any given time, at least half of the fundraisers out there are looking for another job and that very few boards and bosses have come to a consensus about how fundraising really works. As of late this familiar story has zeroed in on how poorly prepared some employers are with making hiring decisions and how often they miss opportunities by relying on an arduous interview process.

Alex believes hiring managers need a wake up call; and, on the flip side, he insists that candidates need to know how to see the red flags that distinguish between an job where you’re being set up to fail rather than given an opportunity to thrive. For example, Alex wants fundraisers to listen more closely to whether an employer characterizes the work as exchanging gifts with those who share a genuine and meaningful relationship with our organization; or does the employer believe that the donor is merely a passive consumer and an opportunity to close a quick deal. 

I was grateful to hear that Alex had taken my recent recommendation to read Benjamin Barber’s Consumed which likens our consumer society to that of a child whose impulsive behavior prevents them from achieving their full potential. As I have said many times before, this is where I believe fundraising finds itself today: in the midst of its messy adolescence and unable to discern between what’s really working in its favor versus getting in its way. I am confident that as we develop a collective willingness to wrestle with tough questions of the sort that Alex and I did today, and as donors are afforded opportunities to play active, citizen-like roles with the organizations they support, our sector and society as a whole will reap the benefits that accompany mature, sustainable relationships.

As always, we are grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.


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