I have been in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector since my undergraduate days at Saint Mary’s College. Working in the NFP sector is definitely my calling and for some uncanny reason, I truly enjoy securing philanthropic income for worthwhile missions. I have never hated the work and look at it as something that requires strategy and EQ. However, fifteen years into the work, I hit a wall and was burnt out, to the point that I truly believed I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (Dude, I know you feel my pain…working with volunteers and board of directors is EXHAUSTING and MADDENING).
Being An Administrator Wasn’t For Me
While I was working full time as a philanthropic officer, I was also consulting, and then, magically, several opportunities arose for me to privately consult. I jumped on it! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED connecting donors with my NFP’s mission and inspiring them to make an impactful gift. But, at that point in my career, I wasn’t just a philanthropic officer, but I was also a high level administrator and I DIDN’T enjoy the politics that came along with that role.
Plus, I’m an educator at heart. As a consultant, I’m able to teach NFPs on how to engage their stakeholders in order to secure the necessary resources to advance their mission. Yes, as a manager, I could mentor my team, but consulting takes it to the next level. And since 2015, I have enjoyed working with my clients and watching many of them grow their philanthropic efforts.
Frustrations of Being a Consultant
Like any job, being a consultant had its frustrating moments. For instance, most of my clients had limited resources and when they invested in my services I was very honored. But, when they wouldn’t even consider the advice I was offering or moved at a glacial pace to implement the strategies we discussed, well I wanted to pull my hair out. Actually, that’s false. What I wanted to do was take the reins and physically show them how to do it and how these tactics will work for their benefit. Overall, I was happy with consulting and yet….
…Something was definitely missing in my professional life. Two years into consulting, I realized that I missed the rush of “fundraising.” I missed creating a strategy to connect a donor with the mission of an organization. I missed engaging with individuals who want to philanthropically invest in a NFP and make a positive impact. AND, let me tell you, I really, really missed doing the ask for a specific dollar amount and then the rush of securing the gift. It is an adrenaline rush that I never tire of…for those of you who get the “runner’s high,” I would think this would be comparable (of course I have never, ever gotten a high from running and those of you who do are just CRAZY).
Should I Give Up My Hard Earned Balance?
For the past few years, if a mission called out to me, I would consider getting back into the fundraising profession. But every time (almost), I would pull out from consideration. I had finally found this awesome balance of personal and professional life. Previously, when I worked, I would become obsessed and worked a crazy amount of hours at the detriment of my physical health. I would feel compelled to work to the point that I would sacrifice time with my loved ones. Because I knew that I had this tendency, I didn’t want to risk that from happening if I jumped back into the role of a frontline philanthropic officer.
Finding the Right Position and Mission Fit
And then, an opportunity presented itself. An organization that is 100 percent aligned with my mission to assist underserved youth. Rather than being in a leadership role (I definitely do not want to be in that role), this was being a philanthropic officer whose sole role is to connect prospective donors with the mission of the NFP. My territory would be the midwest, which meant I didn’t have to worry about travelling all over the country. And, what made this position even better, I would be able to continue to work from my home. I wasn’t going to sacrifice the balance that I had finally found with my personal and professional life. Woot! Woot!
I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous about getting back into the game. Especially since I started at the very moment the country was hit with the pandemic. However, I believe in the mission and I have the drive to raise the necessary dollars to help this organization’s scholars. I’m kind of excited to be on the frontlines helping this #NFPgit.
I’ve been on the job since the end of March, and I want share my journey with you. Join me!