Are you wondering what it will take to break through to the next level?

Is the current job feeling little stale?

Here’s what you can do to spark your own massive breakthrough and help yourself find joy and excitement in fundraising again:

1. Learn your strengths.

What are your strengths? Are you not sure what your strengths are? If you need a quick boost, consider taking the Gallup Strengthsfinder test. In this test you’ll find 5 strengths that you can build on quickly for a successful fundraising career.

My strengths, for example, are positivity, strategic, and individualization. That means that I can stay positive in the face of overwhelming odds, ALWAYS an asset for a fundraiser or a sales person, especially a development director, who sets the tone for the team. As a person with a strength in strategy, I can look at each piece of the fundraising plan and strategize how we can best use what we have to succeed in direct mail, grants, events, major gifts, and more. Because of my strength of individualization, I treat everyone like an individual. That means that I’m going to be better at managing teams -because I’m eager to get to know people, and never assume that I know what their unique gifts are.

Read this interview with Kishshana Palmer to learn more about how learning your team’s strengths can raise you more money.

2. Investigate different roles and organizations in your town.

Have you ever wanted to see a “day in the life” of a major gifts officer? What about a prospect researcher? How about a database specialist? Or an events director? Do you want to see what a development director does at a larger nonprofit based around a different cause?

Make a list of causes that intrigue you, and pick one or two to start looking into.

What does their team do? How much specialization do they have? Would you prefer to be a specialist or a generalist? If you can job shadow for a couple of days in the next two months, what jobs would you like to shadow? Could you reach out to people in those roles to ask if you can be with them on a low-pressure day, just to see what their job is like?

3. Get clear on your goals. 

Now that you’ve done some job shadowing or perhaps just informational interviewing, what’s next?

You might have decided on a role that fits your strengths, in a cause that you care about. What skills do you have to gain to get this role? What education might be necessary? How can you show a hiring manager that you would shine in this role? Is there a volunteer job you can take on to get the required skills or responsibilities necessary for this role? What if you want to learn how to close 4 or 5 figure gifts? Could you join a board’s development committee for this purpose? 

What really matters, aside from your previous experience, is how you spend your time when you’re not working. Your volunteer experience, and even your donation history matters when you’re looking for that next fundraising role.

Is there a cause that you want to get more deeply involved in, that you could start giving to on a monthly basis? They might check their donor database to see if you’ve given before when you apply. Don’t believe me?

Read this interview with David Rubin, Senior Director of Major Gifts at MercyCorps, an international aid nonprofit, about how he hires.

4. Find a mentor.

Who has done what you want to do?

For example, many jobs in education or healthcare pay better than smaller social service organizations. If one of your goals is making more money with your fundraising job, then you should be looking at these kinds of institutions. Who has made this transition successfully into a university or hospital fundraising job, from a smaller social services background? Can you go talk with them? Who is currently mentoring one of your colleagues? Could you ask them to mentor you as well? 

5. Look within-what’s YOUR recipe for success with a boss?

Whether you do this at your current or future job, this is so important for your happiness.

Are you one of those people who thrives on constant feedback from a boss? Or do you prefer to be left alone? Do you work well in teams? Or are you someone who needs independence? Do you like to have a quick 5 minute meeting on Monday to set priorities for the week? Or do you prefer to check in daily? Do you prefer to communicate via phone? Email? Text? In person?

You’ve got to know which one makes you the most comfortable, and which one is not your favorite thing.

Then you should look at your boss’s preferred method of communication, and see if there’s some way to meet in the middle if you have different preferred communication frequency and channels. This can save you so much bad communication in the long run! 

6. Learn to play more.

Sheena Greer says, “Play can give you so much confidence in your ideas. It can encourage you to speak up more and give you the ability to be more gentle with yourselves and your family, your kids, your spouse or partner and your coworkers as well.

Play is a space that is beyond sort of time. Play space is this really unique space where there’s really no obligation to play, but it’s exciting. It makes time stand still for the duration. We stop worrying about who we are, and sometimes within that space we can become someone else. Obviously there are rules but nothing is right, or normal or irrelevant. So when we come into that space, we can let down our old guards if we are able to.”

Check out this interview with Sheena Greer about why play is so important in our nonprofit work.


7. Come to the Fundraising Career Conference April 17, 19 and 21st, 2017 (sponsored by Bloomerang). Over 3 days online, you will learn:

  1. How to negotiate your salary or get a raise (last year a person used this to get a 42% raise!)
  2. Managing up when your boss doesn’t understand fundraising (w/ Kishshana Palmer)
  3. How to be a better manager or mentor in your fundraising role (w/ Peter Drury)
  4. How not to get fired (aka how to deliberately build trust)
  5. Authentic listening-and taking space from doing to just be
  6. How to market your new consulting business
  7. What a fundraising recruiter REALLY wants
  8. The state of our fundraising profession in 2017
  9. How to rock your nonprofit fundraising interview
  10. Creativity and play and how it helps you in your nonprofit work

If you can’t make each session, they will all be recorded for you to watch at your leisure, over and over again.

Mazarine Treyz
Mazarine Treyz is a nationally-recognized strategist for fundraising planning and communications. She is the CEO of Wild Woman Fundraising and the Author of The Wild Woman's Guide to Fundraising, as well as other books. Creator of over 12 e-courses, 3 masterclasses and 3 books, she has coached and taught over 12,000 nonprofit professionals how to be better fundraisers since 2010. Mazarine is the founder of the Fundraising Career Conference and the Nonprofit Leadership Summit.