Advancing in Your Fundraising Career: Moving to Another Organization

fundraising as a career Feb 23, 2021

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and just do not want to go to work! It happens to everyone. If it is just that it has been a bad day or a bad week, these thoughts usually disappear and you are ready to jump back in. However, if every day is starting to become a drag, then it may be time to move on. Often it is because personalities have changed, perhaps a new executive director is on board and he or she just does not understand fundraising nor value the work of the development office. Perhaps a new chair has assumed leadership of the board and does not share the previous board chair’s commitment to fundraising as a part of the organization's culture. Or a personality clash has developed between you and others within the organization. Sometimes these things can be worked out. But an organization that does not value your input and decisions, is constantly overriding your decisions, or embarrasses you in front of staff, board, volunteers or even donors is a situation that no development officer should tolerate for an extended period of time.

Sometimes the only answer is moving to another organization. The wise development officer will see the signs well in advance so he or she can begin preparing for a move before it comes down to being let go by the organization, making it harder to find a new position.

Some signs that it might be time to move on are:

  • The executive director no longer values input from the development officer
  • The relationship between the board and the development officer is strained or nonexistent
  • There is lack of commitment on the part of the organization to developing a philanthropic culture
  • Expectations for the development officer are unrealistic

Occasionally the chief executive officer feels threatened and cuts you off from relating with the board, volunteers, or even donors. Sometimes this can be worked out with intercession, perhaps from a board member or an impartial mediator. But if the CEO does not allow you a maximum amount of autonomy to build strong donor relationships, you may be doomed to failure.

If the organization refuses to budget adequately for development and sets unrealistic expectations of the development office, you will very quickly become exhausted and frustrated trying to meet these unrealistic expectations. This is why it is so important to focus on both monetary and nonmonetary goals for the development office, and for management and development staff to develop expectations together and agree on measurement standards for success. Allowing enough time for a new development office to become mature enough to perform at acceptable standards is critical.

So, when it is time to move on, go back to those networks that you’ve established. Seek guidance from a mentor. Learn or hone the appropriate skills that will help you in a new position. Maintain a positive attitude.

To learn more about advancing in your fundraising career and when it might be time to move on, take my course, Fundraising as a Career, sign up here

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