if fundraising isn't your entire job, you'll enjoy this
the perspective of this article on job hunting by Matt
Hugg, founder of
FundraisingTransitions.com. Matt's company focuses on
helping fundraisers find short-term and long-term
assignments. He coaches people in career transitions who
are breaking into fundraising, and he coaches fundraising
veterans in redefining and honing their career plans. You
can contact Matt by clicking on the
FundraisingTransitions.com logo above.
If you haven't
already, don't forget to visit
to create an employee profile so nonprofits can find you
and your unique talents. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
A new president, a budget shortfall, or mismatched expectations—the reasons may
vary, but the results are the same: You’re in the market for a new job. In the
development field, where the average job-life expectancy is two years or less, it
happens more frequently than a lot of us would like to admit. Thank goodness you’re
a development officer.
I don’t say this because experienced development officers are in demand, though
luckily they are. I say it because, thanks to what you do for a living, you already
know how to conduct a comprehensive job search—even if you don’t know you know.
When I was on the hiring side of the desk, I used to judge people’s approach to their
search as an indicator of how they would perform their new development job. The
parallels are substantial.
Here’s how you can approach your job hunt like a search for the ultimate gift:
Make your case. What do you want for the next phase of your life? A well-thoughtout
and articulated case is the bedrock of any fund-raising program. A job search is
no different. Reassess your career goals based on your personality and skills. Write
down the type of job you want and the type of organizations for which you’d like to
A written statement gives you valuable information to share with others. You can
also use parts of it for applications or letters or when you talk to networking contacts
or a potential employer.
Focus on your targets. A good fund-raising program, like a good job search, has a
well-vetted list of prospects who have the interest and capacity to fund your
objective. Now that you’ve built the case, who are the prospects who could fund your
project? In career-speak, who has the jobs? Make a list of organizations, not job
openings. Find out who has hired people for the types of positions you defined in
your case. It’s like finding out who has made gifts similar to the ones you’re seeking
for your campaign.
The better prepared you are, the better the rest of the process will go. That means
doing your prospect research. As a development officer, you already know a lot of
the resources that will help you build your list, such as Guidestar or professional
directories. You’re also an expert in the most powerful research process: making
visits or, as the career consultants say, networking.
Develop your secondaries list. If you apply moves management terms to your
search, you are the “prime,” the person who orchestrates the actions and makes the
moves happen. But who are the “secondaries,” the ones with the connections to
support your good work? Make a list of absolutely everyone you know, inside and
outside the profession. This list is as important as your prospect list, because these
people can get you in the door.
Manage your process. You’re probably familiar with prospect tracking systems
such as Raiser’s Edge and Benefactor. Build your own system for tracking your
contacts, or get an off-the-shelf program such as ACT. Microsoft Outlook, which may
already be on your computer, can be modified for this use.
Other than contact information, include who referred you to this person, when you
made contact, what was said, and your next steps.
Work that list. Networking is what you’re good at, and if not, use this process to
get better at it. With your list of potential employers (prospects) in hand, start
visiting your secondaries.
Philanthropy is an exchange relationship and so is a job search. Each name leads to
another. By purposefully working your network of secondaries, asking each person
you visit to review your target list, you can get closer to the key decision makers
who might have the job you want.
At this point, you might be thinking, “But I’ve been around town for years. Why don’t
I just call the president of the hospital? She knows me.” There’s a good reason you
shouldn’t do that.
Remember that last big gift you brought in? You worked with your prospect’s closest
advisor, and that person gave you the endorsement you needed to gain access to
the prospect (and that person may have even told the prospect to make the gift).
The same dynamic is at play in the job hunt. A third-party endorsement can get you
in the door and could lead to the offer.
Make the ask. In a job search there are two ways of “making the ask,” both of
which have parallels to your fund-raising work. The first and most familiar is
answering a job posting. Just like writing a grant proposal, draft a letter and send
back-up paperwork (cover letter, résumé, and references). Follow up as appropriate
and hope that your paperwork was enough to get you a face-to-face meeting.
The second way is more like your work with an individual donor: Build a relationship
and wait for the right time. Can you fill a need in the organization? (Can the gift
meet a need of the donor?) Will the hiring manager see you as the solution to a
problem? Describe how you can make your boss’s job easier, the organization
stronger, and, most importantly, bring in more revenue.
Stewardship. The parallels here are uncanny. We all talk about stewardship, but
rarely is it done well. There is great pressure to keep getting gifts, or in a job search,
to keep moving on to the next interview. There’s no time, it seems, to keep up a
relationship. Wrong. After your interview, whether you got the job or not, you need
to stay connected with your contacts.
The most important thing is to remember Jerry Panas and say “thank you” at least
seven times. If a person you interview with might become your next boss, won’t she
or he want to see that you know this?
Care and feeding
Even after you get a new job, focus on maintaining your network in a systematic
way. Web-based solutions such as LinkedIn and Plaxo are increasingly popular. Make
a few calls each week to maintain your network. Your new employer will come to
value your connections. You will be the go-to person when the boss needs to recruit
another fund raiser.
So that’s it. It might not be as easy as you’d like it to be, but neither is fund raising.
The difference is that instead of representing a terrific nonprofit, now you’re
representing you, your family, and your personal values.
This article is from the May/June 2006 CURRENTS.
About the Author
Matt Hugg developed The Campaign for You career management system to use his
20 years in charitable organizations to help non-profit leaders, and those who aspire
to be non-profit leaders, find the jobs they want at the organizations they love. He
can be contacted at mhugg@TheCampaignForYou.com or 610-831-5544.
Copyright © 2006 Council for Advancement and Support of Education. All Rights Reserved. Used by