Canaries in the coalmine or opportunistic job hoppers?

publication date: Sep 28, 2016
author/source: Cathy Mann

Cathy MannIn part one of this series, Cathy talked about the pervasive misconception about fundraising professionals and 18-month job tenures. In part two, Cathy looked at what the sector and organizations can do to keep fundraisers in organizations longer.

In this third and final part of the series, Cathy looks at what responsibility fundraising professionals have to reduce turn-over rates.

What responsibility do we, as philanthropy professionals have?  Surely, we are not blameless and must do our own part to make a difference.

  • Firstly, we need to be aware of our skills and limitations.  There are myriad opportunities for fund development professionals in Canada.  Because of the shortage of experienced fundraisers, the opportunity to accept a job beyond one’s skill level is available.  We do ourselves, our profession, the organization that hired us and the sector a disservice each time we accept a job for which we are not prepared.  If you’re offered a position that is beyond your skill level, make sure you have the support you need so you can learn on the job and grow professionally instead of simply being in over your head.
  • Do your homework about an organization before taking the leap to the next job. Do whatever due diligence you can before you move to minimize the possibility that the cultural “fit” is not right – for you or the organization.
  • Get the broader skills you need to do an effective job.  Don’t rest simply on being a good fundraising tactician. If you’re going to support the sector well, you must also be familiar with organizational issues beyond fundraising: governance, finance, change management… The list goes on.  With grounding in organizational development and other skills, you can play a more meaningful role in your organization. 
  • We need to educate our colleagues, bosses and volunteers that fundraising cuts horizontally across an organization.  What happens in one area affects other areas, including fundraising.  So, we need to be involved in decisions in areas other than fundraising, since they impact on our ability to do our job.  We need to advocate for our right to be at the table where organizational decisions are being made. 

We can throw up our hands and bemoan a lack of leadership, volunteers who don’t understand fundraising or sensational media stories that seem to question the integrity of the sector as a whole. 

Or, we can do our best to make a difference.

As humans, we invariably do both.  In the future, may we all do more of the latter and less of the former.

As the President of Cathy Mann & Associates Inc, Cathy helps clients develop the infrastructure and culture of philanthropy required to build sustainable development programs.  In her role as Academic Coordinator and an instructor at Ryerson University’s Fundraising Management Certificate program, Cathy breaks down complex matters into achievable actions.  During her 5-year tenure as Executive Director, Frontier College Foundation received the 2007 Award for Excellence in Fundraising for Small Shops from the International Association of Fundraising Professionals. Cathy is an active volunteer and frequent speaker.  With the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Toronto Chapter, she held many roles:  V.P. of Professional Development, mentor and founder of its Inclusion and Equity Committee. Occasionally, she plays her ukulele in public.


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