How do you get and keep a nonprofit job, all while avoiding burnout?

In this video, Amy Eisenstein interviews the founder of Wild Woman Fundraising, Mazarine Treyz, who discusses excellent career-oriented strategies for finding and keeping a nonprofit job. Mazarine also shares great advice about setting expectations, what questions to ask in an interview, and how to avoid burnout and job-hoppping.

We’re proud to sponsor Amy Eisenstein’s video series! Be sure to check back on our blog for more conversations with some of the top experts in the nonprofit sector. To see other free resources that we’ve collaborated with Amy on – like research studies and webinars – please visit

Full Transcript:

Jay: Hello, I’m Jay Love with Boomerang and we’re delighted to bring you the following video. One of the things I wanted to point you to is our website where there’s additional educational materials that we provide on an ongoing basis whether it’s a weekly webinar, eBook downloads, various blogs and etc. from experts from all across the world that will help you be better with your fundraising. Enjoy the video.

Amy: Hi, I’m Amy Eisenstein. Today, I have the pleasure of having my friend and colleague, Mazarine Treyz here. Mazarine is the founder of Wild Women Fundraising and also the founder of the fundraising career conference. And she wrote “Get The Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide.” So I am so excited to be talking to Mazarine today. So welcome, Mazarine.

Mazarine: Hey, thanks for having me, Amy.

Amy: My pleasure. So today, we’re going to be talking about getting that job and asking for a raise and all sorts of good stuff related to keeping your fundraising job. So, take it away. Well, first of all, let me stop you. Tell us about what’s going on here with this spear and . . . yeah. First start there.

Mazarine: Well, I brought the spear because I feel like people need to have courage when they ask for a raise and so, I’m trying to help them feel like they can have that with just a little something to hold in their hands. And as they go through my session tomorrow, I’m hoping that we will pass this around and we will all practice asking for what we deserve.

Amy: All right. So let’s talk about how you can interview for a job, get the job, keep the job. What are some questions that you should be asking while you’re interviewing?

Mazarine: Well these questions are actually not fundraising specific but they’re extremely good questions to ask for any job and they will help teach you with the culture is there that you know if it’s going to support you or not. I call it avoiding the boss from hell, these questions.

Amy: Great. That’s important. That’s something we all want to do.

Mazarine: Right. Because a lot of times in our fundraising jobs, we’re not set up to succeed, we’re set up to fail because of the turnover and under-develop report and all those other things. So, the first question I like to ask is “Who will I learn from and how?” and that will help you know is there people going to be supporting you to mentor you in this role.

Another one is how willing are people to help each other here? That’s a similar related question but it’s a little different.

So if the office manager is going to come in and help you with that mailing. You know what I mean?

Amy: Yeah.

Mazarine: And then, what do you do when things get stressful? You won’t believe how many people don’t have any answer to that question.

Amy: Interesting.

Mazarine: It’s like open the bottom drawer, take out the gin. That’s probably not the job for you.

Amy: And the answer, “Oh, it never got stressful here,” right?

Mazarine: That’s a lie because we know fundraising is stressful.
Amy: Interesting. So what do you do if it gets stressful?

Mazarine: Okay, what do you do when it gets stressful and how do you celebrate what’s working here? And imagine, every time you get even like a thousand-dollar grant, you’re just like, “Hey everybody, high five. So let’s go have tea together or coffee or whatever. Let’s walk around the block.” Something that celebrates these small wins that are so crucial to fundraising.

Amy: I like to say that it doesn’t even need to be about money, like if you get a meeting with a donor, let’s celebrate that too. Everybody go around for high fives. I like to talk about a dance party in your office. Just a two-minute dance party, crank up the music, celebrate that. You got a gift or you got a meeting or whatever success you have. So, I love it. Great question.

Now, the first question about who you’re going to learn from and grow. Do you think that a boss or somebody might be worried that that would seem like they’re not quite qualified or I guess I would be a little nervous asking that question.

Tell us more about that one. What motivates that one?

Mazarine: Sure. When I had my last job at the Urban League in Portland, I had a mentor from another nonprofit who happened to be James Phelps from the ACLU who used to work there. He’s at the AFP board and he’s been involved with AFP forever, and he was a really good mentor to me. And so, I think for my boss, he knew that he didn’t know fundraising. He came from the corporate world. And so he knew he needed to find someone to help me do better.

Amy: Excellent. Great. So if you don’t want to job hop which we hope that you won’t be job hopping in our sector anymore, the goal here is to decrease the job hopping. How can you avoid burnout and how could you not job hop?

Mazarine: Excellent question. So what I would say is you have to be able to put limits on your job, and you’ll also be able to set expectations. And a part of it is educating your boss about what’s appropriate responsibilities and what you’re able to do for your job. So one of the things I like to say is if they’ve given you too much work, walk into their office and say, “Hey, you could meet 80 hours of work here, which 40 would you like me to do?”

Amy: Good question with of course, no attitude, just really like . . .

Mazarine: Friendly.

Amy: “Listen, I can’t quite do all of this and I really want to do . . . prioritize . . .” however we’re going to say it as nicely as possible ” . . . and I was wondering if you might help prioritize” because everything right now seems like it’s on fire and the most important. So we need to figure this out together. Right?

Mazarine: Yes.

Amy: All right. Great. What else?

Mazarine: And mandating certain times of the day where you’re not going to have meetings and you’re just going to be able to focus on your work I think it’s key because a lot of us are in open-office plans. People come up behind us say, “Hey, I’m having some problem with the printer. Can you help me with that?” and like I’m not your tech support but if you’re younger in fundraising, sometimes you’re pulled into that role. So you do want to say in your lane and focus on the things that make you happy.

Another thing is the Strengths Finder test was really excellent. If you could help people understand, “These are my strengths, what I should be going out and doing.” If I have [inaudible 00:05:48], I should be out with donors right now. Do major gifts, don’t make me sit here and answer the phone because that’s not what I’m going to be best at. But sometimes my boss wants me to be in the office and I’d be like, I’m just not supposed to be here as a fundraiser.
Amy: Right, well hopefully the boss understands that because sometimes, when fundraisers are out doing their job, the boss doesn’t realize that they’re out meeting with donors. So I think it’s important to communicate, make sure that everybody knows where you are so that there’s no thoughts of just out on the town.

So you talked about setting expectations with your boss. How would somebody go about doing that especially new and younger fundraisers who really don’t know what the expectations should be. How should they go about figuring that out?

Mazarine: You have to start deliberately building trust with your boss and you can go in and actually say, “I want to start deliberately building trust with you.” And you also have to build trust with yourself and do what you say you’re going to do and things like that. But once you take a Strengths Finder test, you’re really much more able to say, “This is what I’m good at.”

Amy: What’s a Strengths Finder’s test?

Mazarine: Yeah sure, so Strengths Finder is . . . if you Google Strengths Finder test, you could take it for 15 bucks. You can find out the five strengths that you’re best at and there’s like 38 of them. And you can have everything from individuation, treating people like individuals to . . . there’s all sorts of ones. But it’s much more scientific than the Myers-Briggs and I like it more and you can really map these on to specific fundraising tasks.

Amy: I mean, I think it is really important whether you’re going through a new job or restructuring the current job that you have to really set expectations and they don’t have to be all monetary either. What can be expected of you each and every month? Are you going to meet with three donors? Are you going to write five grants? You know, be concrete about it and specific and if it seems like you agreed to something and it’s not working, maybe go revisit those expectations.

I think you and I have the same goal here. We want fundraisers and their jobs longer. It’s better for donors. It’s better for fundraisers. It’s better for organizations. It’s better for fundraising. So really how do you get the right job, I mean that’s what you’re focused on, right? Getting that right job so that you can stay. Any other thoughts? Words of wisdom you want to share?

Mazarine: I could spend hours talking about this.

Amy: Pick two.

Mazarine: Okay. Let’s see here. I would say that the number one thing I would do aside from asking good questions in the interview is really ask yourself, “Where do I want to go in my career?” You can career path and I actually have a post in my blog about it with a little eBook in career path. And you could say, “Okay, here’s the steps I need to take to get to where I want to go.” That way, it will ensure that you’re happier in your job and you’ll stay longer and you have an end goal for what the job is going to bring you.

And another thing might be that you want to think about getting official mentorship and there’s a session here about mentorship as well. But also think about asking people in your office whether it’s a volunteer or an intern or another staff member, what are your goals for your career? You know, and really try to nurture them in their career so they don’t just feel like, “Oh, I’m a robot and you just want me to keep doing whatever I’m supposed to be doing like entering donations or whatever it is.”

So if you take an interest in them, if you make them feel like a human being, you’re really going to be able to draw out the best performance but also really nurture them as a human and that’s really what this is all about. When we talk about fundraising turnover, there’s a human cost, not just a monetary cost for our nonprofits and you and I are very passionate about that.

I mean it’s one of the things that makes us the most inefficient as a sector is this constant turnover and Penelope Burk talks about this in Donor-Centered Leadership. So every time a fundraiser leaves, it costs your organization so much money and if you have a running turnover of three years in a row, it’s $600,000. According to Penelope Burk, you have $600,000 that you lose even if you’re only paying them $49,000.

Amy: Right, because it’s opportunity lost, cost losses . . .

Mazarine: Retraining.

Amy: Retraining.

Mazarine: Everything.

Amy: Exactly, right and time without a fundraiser in the office.

Mazarine: And that’s why you should really care about this.

Amy: All right, great. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

Mazarine: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.