Posted , by Abbie Hacker, Consultant. Topic: Careers in Philanthropy, Fundraising, Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy Research & Events, Professional Development.

Before You Call It Quits, Try These 5 Tactics to Grow Job Satisfaction

and Boost Fundraising Success


By Abbie Hacker

A new survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports more than 80% of fundraisers are satisfied with many aspects of their job, yet half are likely to leave their position by 2021.

At The Curtis Group, we are passionate about developing strong, committed fundraising professionals. It is a critical and fulfilling career, and nonprofits can’t meet their mission without you. Before you start over, shift some things in your current position, invest in yourself.

What Fundraisers Are Satisfied With:

  • Autonomy and independence in their role
  • Relationships with their organization’s volunteers (non-board)
  • The feeling that their work matters to the organization
  • Current job overall
  • Benefits

What Fundraisers Are Feeling:

  • 84% feel tremendous pressure to succeed in their role, and more than half (55%) feel or have felt under-appreciated in their role.
  • 51% of respondents indicated they are very or somewhat likely to leave their current job over the next two years. In addition, 30% of fundraisers reported they are likely to leave the fundraising profession altogether by 2021.
  • Salary, along with organizational, management, and leadership issues, are the most common reasons given for being likely to leave the profession, followed by workload.
  • Only about five in 10 are satisfied with amount of staff they possess to do their job, the speed with which vacant fundraising jobs are filled, and opportunities for promotion.
  • Just 56% are satisfied with opportunities to receive mentoring.

Have you considered these suggestions to enhance your job satisfaction?

  • Develop Your Leadership Skills:  Look for opportunities to train, learn, and grow.  Attend conferences or events, utilize access to webinars. By investing in yourself, you will be equipped to educate others: the CEO, board and team about philanthropy. AFP is increasing its focus on leadership development for fundraisers – take advantage of your membership. Check out our resource list.
  • Get a mentor: Look for a fundraising professional with more experience than you who can share knowledge, experience and advice with you. Check out your local AFP chapter for an established mentoring program. Schedule a coffee meeting with someone you have met at a local conference. Identify a handful of individuals you can call when you have a question or want to bounce an idea around.
  • Set Realistic Goals: No matter your position on the development team, earn a place in conversations regarding goal setting  – whether it’s your professional development goals or your department’s budgeted goals, prove that you have meaningful input.
  • See Fundraising as a Team Sport: Whether you have one or 10 on your development team, create your own team. Build relationships with your CEO, your board, your volunteers and your program staff. These folks should be involved in helping raise support for your organization.  Support your team. If you are a supervisor, ensure that your team members are among those satisfied with their position.
  • Help Create a Culture of Transparency: Before you burn out, think about what would lead to your success and fulfillment? Is there a new job responsibility you are interested in? Do you see the need for succession planning or additional hires? Consider an open discussion with your supervisor about identifying the opportunities within your organization, retain fundraising counsel for an assessment or propose your own plan for growth and what it will take to get there.
I have seen firsthand that a strong, committed staff boosts fundraising success. As you develop relationships and trust with donors and establish fundraising best practices, I am confident you will see fundraising growth. But I also know that this takes time. I do not want to see 30% of fundraisers leave our field in the next two years. Let’s support each other, work as a team and commit to becoming outstanding fundraising professionals.
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