3 Tips for Advancing Your Fundraising Career
In this webinar, Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE will list the three steps to help you advance in your career and how to juggle your tasks to find time for those three steps.
Steven: All right, Linda, is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?
Linda: Yes, I’m ready.
Steven: All right, awesome. Well, good afternoon everyone on the East Coast. Good morning, I should say if you’re out on the West Coast. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar. “Three Simple Steps To Advance Your Fundraising Career.” My name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.
And just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going here. I just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. And I’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on today. So if you have to leave early or maybe if you get interrupted and have to take a little break from the session, don’t worry, we’ll get that recording to you later on this afternoon. I’ll get the slides to you in case you didn’t already get those as well. So have no fear.
But most importantly, please use that chat box right there on your webinar screen, we’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy. If you haven’t already, send us a chat, let us know who you are, where you’re dialing in from. We love to keep these sessions interactive. And if you are a Twitter person, you can do the same thing on Twitter, just use the #Bloomerang. I’ll be keeping an eye on the feed there as well.
And if you have any trouble hearing the audio through your computer speakers, we find that the audio is a little bit better by phone. So if you got a phone nearby, if you don’t mind doing that, if that’ll be comfortable for you just check your email for ReadyTalk there should be a phone number there you can dial into. It’s just for you.
If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to all you folks. We do these webinars just about every single week throughout the year. We only miss a couple of weeks for holidays or if they let me take a vacation day or two. We love it but what we love to do the most is our software, our donor management software is what Bloomerang is.
So if you are interested in that, or maybe thinking about switching sometime soon or just kind of curious about what we have to offer, check out our website. You can even watch a quick video demo and see the software in action. You don’t even have to talk to anyone here if you don’t want to. So check that out if you’re interested. Don’t do that now, wait at least an hour because you all are in for a real treat.
We have one of my favorites returning once again to our webinar series. Linda Lysakowski joining us from beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. Linda, how’s it going? I think you are our reigning champion for Bloomerang webinars. I think you’ve done the most. I don’t know if you knew that or not. But you’re the OG. How’s it going? You’re doing okay?
Linda: Okay. Yep.
Steven: Good. Well, you’re one of my favorites like I said. I want to brag on you real quick. If you all don’t know, Linda . . . I’m not sure that there are many of you who don’t know Linda, but if you don’t, this will be a good introduction to her. You may see her again on other people’s webinar series, conference schedules definitely attend her session. Always a good session from her. She’s been doing this a long time. She’s been consulting for the last 20 or so years. But before that was working in the sector, has done a lot of training. Trained over 27,000 development professionals.
And I can vouch for the training she gives, we have a few customers that we share, that are always really happy with the services they receive from her. Prolific author as well, lots of books, there were way too many books that she’s written than I could put on one slide. But you can find all those on her website. She covers a lot of different things, capital campaigns, board members development, office . . . and I was actually looking at a travel book she just told me before we got going here, so be on the lookout for that. And she’s also a graduate of AFP’s Faculty Training Academy so you’re really going to see those training chops here.
So, Linda, I’ve already taken way too much of your time. You can take it away my friend and tell us all about building that fundraising career. So floors yours.
Linda: Okay, well, thanks so much, Steven. Steven, and I often run into each other at conferences where I’m speaking, and sometimes he’s speaking, and sometimes we’re just there exhibiting. So it’s really great to join Bloomerang. And as I tell you a little bit about my career, you’ll know that I’ve been around this before we had such great user-friendly software programs. So you are really lucky that you’re entering this career if you’re in this career now.
But as Steve said, I’m the author of . . . somebody just asked me the other day, I actually had to add them up. About 25 books including the new one that’s coming out. It’s a travel book called “Beyond Las Vegas: Road Trips From A to Z.” So if you’re in Las Vegas or live near the area, you might be interested in learning about all the neat and exciting things we have.
But one of my early books was “Fundraising as a Career: What Are You Crazy?” And I can tell you briefly why I named it that, you might think it’s a strange name for a book. But I was in banking, I spent 11 years in the banking profession before I entered the nonprofit sector. And when I was leaving banking, it was a crazy time in banking there were a lot of mergers going on. And a lot of people were losing their jobs. I didn’t lose mine. I voluntarily decided it was time for a career change.
But some of my banker friends and other friends said to me, “Are you crazy, you’re going to leave banking and go work for a nonprofit?” But I can say that I honestly have never regretted it. It’s been an exciting journey for me.
But I also found that a lot of things that I learned in the for-profit sector helped me a lot in the nonprofit sector. So I think as far as attending this webinar, you’re in the right place. If, for instance, you’re new to fundraising, and you want to learn how to advance in this career. I know when I entered the career . . . I’m a big dreamer and goal setter. And the first week or so on the job, I met our consultant and I said, someday that’s where I want to do, I want to be a consultant.
Now, that might be a little overly ambitious for the first week, but I knew in the back of my mind, that’s what I wanted to do as far as advancing. I knew I did not want to ever be an executive director. I really liked the fundraising part of it. Or maybe you’re here at this webinar because you’re ready to take the next step in your career. Maybe you have just been in a position that you feel like, oh gosh, you know, I’m getting kind of bored with this. And I can tell you I empathize with that 100% because I got bored very easily.
In the 11 years I spent in banking I had, I believe it was eight different jobs within two different banks. So obviously, I get bored pretty easily. And I’m always looking at what’s the next step? What’s the next thing on the horizon? Do I want to specialize? Do I want to move into being executive director? Do I want to become a consultant? Do I want to move to a bigger organization? So maybe you’re just thinking about all that. And you’re ready to take that new step in your career.
And sometimes what you need is some help in showing your boss that you’re ready for the next step in your career. And I’ve always been, I think, pretty good at that convincing bosses when I had them that I was ready for the next step. Although there’s some exceptions, and I’ll probably share with you some of the times that I wasn’t able to succeed. And that’s why I moved to a different organization. But a lot of times I think it’s how you show your boss that you are indeed ready for the next step.
So what you’re going to learn in this webinar is pretty simple. It’s the three simple steps I think that can help you advance in your fundraising career. And I know three steps sounds pretty darn easy, but some of them aren’t quite as easy. And then more importantly, you’re going to find time to do these steps. That’s one of the challenges I think in the career of fundraising is we’re so busy putting out fires and doing those day to day things that are just all time-consuming.
So I don’t think that it’s difficult to find the time if you can make the time, but sometimes that’s a challenge. So I’m going to hopefully give you some hints on that as well. And then also, I’m going to actually give you a hint on how to save money in preparing your career too at the very end.
So, let me tell you a little bit about my journey from the for-profit world to the nonprofit world. And as I said, it was a challenge for me leaving the banking world. I had never worked in nonprofit. And I actually didn’t know that fundraising was a career at all. When I was working for the bank, the last job I had was in the marketing department. And I was actually responsible for product development like I developed the product for realtors because our bank was big on mortgage lending. And I would go out and talk to realtors and I would train the bank managers on what to say to realtors to convince them that they should come to our bank and do mortgages there.
And I developed a program for high school students on financial literacy. And I developed the senior program for something we could offer to senior citizens, which I was not one at the time. So I got to do a lot of different things, and a lot different variety.
But one day, my executive vice president of the bank called me. And usually when the executive vice president calls you, he was the person next in line to the president. And invited me for breakfast and I thought, “Oh my gosh, what did I do or what does he want?” Those were the first two things. I either did something wrong and he wanted to talk to me personally about it. Or he had something that he wanted from me. Well, it turned out to be the latter. He did one something, but for me, it was a great opportunity.
He said, “The local university . . . ” where I was actually a student, I went to school while I was being a full-time banker. I spent some of my lunch hours and my evenings going to school and getting my college degree because I didn’t have a college degree when I enter banking. And he said, “The college is doing their annual business appeal. And they asked me if I would be a team leader and get some people together.” And he said, “I don’t really know this community.” He was new to the community. He had just moved there.
And he said, “I know you know the community really well. You’re active in the Chamber of Commerce, and you’re probably much more suited for this than I am.” So he said, “Would you be a team leader for this?” So I showed up at my first meeting, and that was my introduction to development and I said, “Oh my gosh, people actually get paid to do this.” I was doing a lot of volunteer fundraising, but I had never thought of it as a career.
And I got so excited over this that I went back to my office and I was obviously working on this business appeal for the college in addition to some other volunteer things that the bank had me involved in because they like their employees to get involved in community activity. So I was involved in Special Olympics and several other groups. And I opened up my file drawer looking for a file for work, and I realized I had more file folders in there for my volunteer activities than I had for work. And I said I believe it’s time for career change. And my gosh, if I can get paid to do fundraising, that’s like the ideal career for me.
So I sent my resume to the president and that was about in May, I guess just as I was ready to get my degree. I graduated in May. And in June, they called me and said, “We have an opening for an assistant vice president for institutional advancement, are you interested in the job?” So that’s kind of led me into it. But it was a shock for me because going from the business world to the nonprofit world, I had to adapt to a whole different mindset and a different culture.
So what I learned is three things that helped me in the for-profit world that I found could also help me in the nonprofit world. And one of the things that I learned . . . and these are really the three hints, learn, get involved, and set goals for yourself. And the way I learned this in the for-profit world, was when I started . . . I always said in my lifetime, there were two things I never wanted to be, and that was a teacher and a banker. And I started my career as a banker, and kind of ended it as a teacher, I guess, because that’s mainly what I do now.
But I knew I had a lot to learn, and so whenever the bank ran courses, they offered a course on how to communicate better, I went to that. I went to as much as I possibly could absorb. And at one point for one of the banks, I had a position where I was actually learning how to become a securities broker because I was in private banking. So I took courses at American College in Bryn Mawr, and I started working towards that kind of thing.
And I thought this is really fun stuff and for the most part learning about estate planning, and that came in handy even when I got into fundraising. So I was always busy learning something and going to school. I got my associates degree, and then my bachelor’s degree, and then went on to learn more about different things that related to business. But I attended courses at the Chamber of Commerce had on sales and things like that.
So those were learning experiences that I learned in the for-profit world. And I learned getting involved was really important. When I was a banker, I got involved in the Chamber of Commerce. But it wasn’t just showing up for meetings and handing out a few business cards and going home. I volunteered for things like serving on the Membership Committee. Because when I was working for a nonprofit, I found that this was a real great way for me to get involved and introduce people to my nonprofit organization as well.
And then I’ve always been busy on setting goals. Like I said, I never wanted to be a banker, but it happened to be a job that was available with good hours and half-decent pay, and some good benefits. But I set goals that I didn’t want to be a teller all my life. I started as a part-time teller, and within a couple of years, I was an assistant manager and then a private banker. So I set myself goals.
And I really had to do that in writing because for me, that’s the way to accomplish something is setting and writing. So those goals when I went to the nonprofit world, I took those same things with me. So one of the things that I did was learning to accept the fact that I didn’t know it all. When I went to work for a nonprofit, I had all these business skills, which were great, because I could tell them how to relate to the business community. Because I knew how businesspeople thought, and sometimes they think differently and act differently than the nonprofit culture is accustomed to.
But I had to learn that, gosh, I didn’t know that much about fundraising. I had done it as a volunteer, but I never did it professionally. And luckily, I had a boss who was very agreeable and wanted me to learn. So he did two things, he encouraged me to join AFP. And he sent me to a CASE Conference because it was higher education. And when I went to that CASE Conference, it was at Dartmouth University I’ll never forget it. And I came back with . . . back in the old days, you know, when they give you a big notebook when you attended a conference. Now everything is online.
But in those days, I came back with probably a four-inch notebook filled with stuff that I just devoured. Because I realized that I did not know a lot about fundraising. And I went into a class where they were talking about LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs, I thought what on earth are they talking about? So I just learned that I had to start absorbing a lot of information about fundraising. So I went to every AFP conference, international conference, I went to my local AFP.
In fact, I joined three AFP chapters because at that time, I was in Pennsylvania and there were three chapters that were within about an hour to an hour and a half drive for me. There was none at that time in the city I grew up in. There is now. So I just joined all these AFP chapters and I went to their all-day conferences, and I went to the National Conference. And I thought, I’ve got to do something about learning. And today, of course, it’s so much easier to do that learning.
So once I accepted the fact that I had a lot to learn, as I said, I went to a lot of conferences. And yes, they took a lot of time, and they also took a lot of money for my employers. And then when I became a consultant, it was my money that I had to spend to go to conferences, but I thought it was worth it. Today, I think there’s so much advantage because you don’t have to always go to conferences. But I really believe there’s a lot to be gained not just the educational session, but the networking.
I can honestly tell you the last couple years that I’ve gone to AFP international conferences, I haven’t attended any classes, because I’m usually speaking myself. I’m involved in some committees so I’m going to meetings. And I spend a lot of time in the exhibit hall because that’s where you get to network and talk with people. And if you want to see anybody that’s attending that conference, they’re almost always at the exhibit hall. So I spent an awful lot of time at conferences, just visiting the exhibitors and finding out about their products. Like Bloomerang, Steve will attest, we just ran into a conference with each other a couple of months ago.
And I find that I learn an awful lot from the exhibitors, and from networking with other colleagues there. It’s not just the educational programs you can learn an awful lot from just networking and meeting with other people.
So before you go to a conference pick out the sessions that you want to attend. But make sure that you also allow time for just networking, going and talking to the exhibitors, going to meet with . . . If you have colleagues in this business that you don’t get to see personally, very often, usually what I do is before I’m going to a conference, I’ll either post on Facebook or send out an email and say, who else is attending this conference? Can we get together?
In fact, next week, I have a guest speaker doing a webinar for me. And she and I met because she contacted me and said, she was thinking of starting her own consulting business, which now she has done and is very successful. But she said, “I wanted to meet with you to kind of pick your brain a little bit.” So those are the kinds of things that you can learn not always just the obvious, attending classes, but that’s one way to do it.
Another thing that you can do to learn is read. And I really consider myself fortunate that I entered fundraising when I did. Because when I entered fundraising, I swear there were about half a dozen books you could buy that talked about fundraising. There just was nothing in the market 30 years ago. Now, there are so many books and you can get them in Kindle version, read them on the plane while you’re traveling. I personally prefer print copies of books.
But I would encourage you to pick up as many books as you can, that relate to fundraising. And especially if you want to learn something. Like when I was taking my CFRE course, I knew the one area I would be weakest in was planned giving. So I actually had to drive at that time from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island to take my test. But my husband was doing the driving so I bought a bunch of planned giving books. I found that there weren’t that many available then as there are now.
But I found some planned giving books and I studied, I read those books all the way while we were driving, because I knew that was the area I needed to learn about. Now, as I said, today, with online learning, you really have a huge advantage because it’s easier, it’s less expensive, and it’s less time-consuming.
You don’t have to spend time driving to a location or going to the airport and sitting in the airport and waiting maybe for flight delays. You don’t spend a whole lot of money on hotels. And all these conferences they’re always at expensive hotels. Nobody runs a conference at the Holiday Inn usually. They’re usually the more pricey ones.
So it’s so much easier because you can take these online courses mostly at your own convenience. I know we have a lot of people who signed up for this webinar, for example, who, for some reason can’t make it at the last minute. A meeting comes up and they know they’re going to get the recording. So it’s easier for you and much more convenient.
So I really encourage you to do as much as you can through online learning because it’s a much easier way to get involved. So the first step, of course, is . . . first of all our three key points is learning, that’s the first thing you want to do to advance.
The second step is getting involved. And getting involved can be a couple of things. I think definitely getting involved in AFP was one of the greatest things I ever did. And my boss encouraged this. But I didn’t just join and go to meetings. I joined the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter was the first one I joined.
And then I joined the Central Pennsylvania chapter which was in Harrisburg. And then I joined the Philadelphia chapter. But I got involved in those chapters. I sat on the board, I chaired Philanthropy Day celebrations. And I spoke at some of these meetings, and I attended seminars, and worked on conference committees.
So it’s getting involved because that’s a great way to advance your career. You might think of, you know, gee sounds like a lot of work. Well, yes, it is a lot of work but if you’re really dedicated to this profession . . . I found that professional organizations . . . and for me, it was AFP. You might be in education and maybe CASE is an organization you want to get involved in. Or if you’re in health care, maybe it’s AHP. But every fundraiser should belong to AFP because that’s a general organization that encompasses all different fields. And you get to meet so many wonderful people.
But you don’t do it just by going and attending meetings and walking out the door. You really need to get involved and serve on committees. And if somebody asked you to do a presentation, you know, jump at the chance because that’s a great way for you to get more involved in that professional organization.
And then you also need to find time . . . and this is what you need to talk to your employer about. Networking opportunities that are outside the fundraising profession. So if you want to raise money from your business community, you’re not going to do it by sending them a letter. You need to get out there and meet these business leaders. So I’ve always been a real strong proponent of the Chamber of Commerce.
And you may have depending on the size of your town or city, you may have a lot of different choices here. Now I’m lucky enough to live in Las Vegas, which is a city of about 2 million people. But we also have some other areas in our metro area. And just in Las Vegas alone, we have the big Metro chamber, which is huge. But then we have smaller chambers like Henderson, Boulder City, Pahrump, the North Las Vegas, they all have their own Chambers of Commerce. Mesquite, you know, some of these places are an hour or so away.
But if you’re serving a whole county, maybe you need to get involved in some of those smaller chambers. And then we have a Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and we have an Urban Chamber, and an Asian Chamber, and Hispanic Chamber. We have a Gay and Lesbian Chamber, we have a Green Chamber. So if you’re an environmental organization maybe you need to join the Green Chamber. Oh, there’s a Health and Fitness Chamber too. There’s just so many different opportunities.
But just joining and going to the meetings, again, doesn’t really get you there. Get involved in these organizations, offer to serve on committees. And you’ll find it’s really helpful for your career, but it’s also helpful for your organization. So when you’re going to your boss and saying, you know, we need to join the Chamber of Commerce, and I’d like to be our representative and attend those meetings, tell them about the benefits of the organization.
And the benefits that I found by joining the Chamber of Commerce is when I wanted to raise money from the business community, I had no trouble getting 150 to 200 volunteers who went out and talked to other businesses and helped us raise a half a million dollars a year from the business community. But it was because I was involved in these organizations. I wasn’t just a bystander that went to a meeting and sat there and listened. And, you know, maybe talked to one or two people that were sitting next to me and then get up and leave. So you really need to get involved in those kinds of things.
And then setting goals is the third step. And I’ve always been a goal setter. I really believe strongly that you have to have goals in mind, for yourself, not just for your organization. We’re all used to setting goals because we’re required to probably at our job. Okay, we want to raise this much from grants this year. We want to have two special events and this is how much we hope to raise from those events. We want to add more people to our database that might be one of your goals. Or we want to increase the size of our board and get them involved in fundraising.
But set goals for yourself. Don’t stop at setting goals for your organization, because you need to set a goal for yourself or it’s just not going to happen. So some examples of things that you might need to think about is, you know, what kind of goals do you want to set, and what are you going to need to get you to those goals. So I’m going to just give you some samples of some of my goals. And as I said, some of these I set very early on in my fundraising career.
As I mentioned, the first week on the job or two weeks, I found out that we were working with a consultant and I started working with him and I said, “Oh my gosh, that’s what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a consultant.” So even though I knew I was like two weeks on the job, I obviously didn’t have the experience and the knowledge to go out and be a consultant. But I thought, what do I need to learn to be a consultant? And I started thinking ahead because I knew that someday I would.
And believe it or not, five years later, I was a consultant. I know that’s a pretty fast jump. But for me, the timing was right. And I jumped in and started my consulting business with only five years under my belt as a fundraising consultant. But I also had all the banking experience. And then when I found out about the CFRE program, that was a goal for me. And I actually got my CFRE, just as I was starting my consulting practice. Because I thought one of the things I knew I was going to need to succeed as a consultant was I needed credibility.
I didn’t have 30 years’ experience like a lot of other people did. But if I had a CFRE after my name, I could really play on that and tell people you know, CFREs subscribe to a code of ethics and AFP members subscribe to a code of ethics. So I set that as a very early goal and at that time you had to be in fundraising five years. So as soon as I was in five years, I sent in my application and took my test. And the next thing I knew I was a CFRE.
Well, then I started hearing about the ACFRE program. And I thought, well, that would even be better because first of all, it’s more credibility, it’s Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive. And one of the really neat benefits is once you get it, it’s a lifetime achievement. You don’t have to be recertified every couple of years. So I thought, well, that’s really something I want to strive for.
So again, that point in time . . . and I’m not sure if this is still true, but you had to be in the profession for 10 years. You had to be a CFRE and be recertified at least one time. So as soon as I was meeting those criteria, I started taking courses and going to seminars, and going to conferences, and taking courses in the things I knew I would need to be an ACFRE. So again, I set that as my goal.
And it’s not easy. I must admit I failed the first . . . I didn’t fail the written test. I passed that with no problem. But I failed the first oral test I took. And I think it was just because of my mental attitude. I went in there thinking, how do I convince ACFRE. They already, know this stuff. So the second time I went back and took my oral exam, I passed it. So you set goals and you overcome the things that are a stumbling blocks for you.
Another thing I set for a goal was I went to an AFP conference oh my gosh, it was very early in my career, and I was so impressed with Kay Sprinkel Grace. I don’t know if any of you have heard her speak. And I said that’s what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a speaker at an international conference. And a couple of years later, I was a speaker at an international conference.
One of the reasons I started my consulting business was I love to travel. And I knew that working for a local organization, I would not be able to travel. So I started setting my sights and I actually applied at a couple of jobs where I thought I would have more of an opportunity to travel because they served a more national audience. But none of them just seemed right for me, and they just weren’t working. So I thought, well, being a consultant, I can travel because I can take clients all over the place. So that was a goal of mine.
And then I also decided that someday I’m going to write a book. I’ve been writing short stories since I was like 12 years old, I guess. But I decided that I wanted to write a book. And so I worked through a AFP’s Publishing Council and submitted a proposal to Wiley and I was accepted. And that was . . . I don’t know, maybe 15, maybe even 20 years ago that my first fundraising book came out. “Recruiting and Training Fundraising Volunteers.” And now I have written 25 books. So, that was the thing.
Now your goals are going to change this is one of the things you have to realize. Now one of my goals, ironically, is spending less time traveling. Steve and I were kind of talking about this before the webinar started. And I used to love traveling but I’m getting older and plane travel is getting to be more of a hassle. So now my goal has changed. I want to spend less time traveling, which is what prompted me to start doing more online courses.
And then another goal that I’ve always had was to leave a legacy. One of the things that I really respected and most of these people are now gone from this earth. The consultant I had who was a real mentor to me. In fact, even when I was ready to start my consulting business, he mentored me and actually sent me some clients that were too small for his organization. But I said, I really wanted to leave a legacy. And that’s what prompted me to write books because I thought I can speak. And that’s great when I hear somebody say, “Oh, I heard you speak years ago.”
And in fact, I’m presenting at the AFP conference in Baltimore next year, because somebody who heard me speak, at a conference years ago, took the topic that I spoke about, took the advice and implemented in his organization. And he said, “I think it’d be great if we do a joint presentation where you talk about raising more money from your business community. And I talk about how I implemented it.”
So to me that’s leaving a legacy, is leaving behind something for younger fundraisers to really focus on. So that’s what prompted me to do all the writing and the speaking. And I figured if I write a book, who knows how many people are going to see that. And it’s still a thrill for me when I get someone who says, “Oh, I have your book. And it’s so dog eared, and I use it all the time. And I’ve given it to other people.”
And I got the really rewarding experience of I had some of my books for sale at an AFP meeting and one woman bought a book and she said, “Oh, I’m meeting with somebody right after this who’s really new to fundraising, and I think she could really use this book.” And about two months later, I’m teaching another class and this woman who got the book is in my class, and I was wondering how she got the book. And she said, “Well, so and so gave it to me.” So that was really a legacy for me, that I feel like I can leave for the younger fundraisers coming up behind me.
So how do you accomplish your goals? Well, it’s not always easy. So let’s talk a little bit about what you can do to kind of accomplish your goals. First of all, I think it’s really important to talk about learning. What subjects do you feel you need to learn more about? Maybe you have always been a grant writer, and you’d like to get more involved in individual fundraising, maybe major gifts.
So what do you need to do take courses? Are there books you can read? And there’s probably books and courses about any subject that you want now. It was a little harder when I was at this point. But look at what subjects you think you need to learn more about whether it’s strategic planning, whether it’s planned giving, major gifts, writing.
The consultant who mentored me said, “When he started in this field, he realized one of the things that he was really weak in was writing.” And he said, “You know, I can’t write case statements for people if I’m not good at writing. So he took a writing course. And those are the kinds of things that you can do. There are so many ways you can learn about these topics.
And also, you have to think about well what’s your budget? What’s your timeline? How fast do you need to learn this? Can you wait for a university or a college course coming up in your area? Most colleges and universities today are teaching if not a degree program, at least a certificate program. I know I teach for UNLV.
So look at your budget and your timeline and try to figure out, what’s the first thing you need to learn, and how you can budget both the time and the money for this. And hopefully, I think that you can get your employer to understand that by educating you, they’re helping their own organization.
And I’ve always been really strong on this one. I applied for jobs . . . I haven’t held that many fundraising jobs. But when I did, I went in there and said, in addition to my salary, I need you cover me to go to the AFP conference every year and my AFP membership. And I’ve never had people complain about that. They look at it as a cost of doing business. And it’s a benefit, just like your health benefits are.
And when I was working for the bank, one bank paid for my associate degree, and another bank paid for my bachelor’s degree. And I felt a little guilty because I left the bank shortly after I graduated.
But in my exit interview, my very wise human resource person said, “Don’t feel guilty about this.” She said, “You know, you had health benefits, and you never had a sick day, the whole time you were working for us. So we didn’t have to pay for your health care. We paid for your education, but the bank benefited by your education as much as you did.”
So I think if you . . . sometimes we have this sort of poverty mentality where we’re afraid to ask for things for ourselves. And we really have to get over that and talk to your bosses about things like that. So I’d like to . . . if you have a chat box, I’d like you all to put in maybe one topic that you think you would like to learn more about. And we’ll just see kind of what results we get. I threw out a couple of ideas.
Strategic planning, that’s a great one, project management, major gifts, time management. Boy, these are great planned gifts. Specific college degrees and there are a lot of colleges and universities, I think about 250 of them now that offer that. Face-to-face ask, recruiting volunteers, case for support, planned giving. Wow, diversity, equity, inclusion, certification, capacity building, how you model your early consulting business?
This is great, I think we have . . . and I’m sure there’s plenty more that have probably come in. But I want to move on because I want to make sure we have time for questions and answers at the end. So the other thing is to think about how you can get involved. What groups do you think would be important for you to join? And once you join the group, how can you get involved? Can you serve on a committee? What else can you do to get involved in these different organizations?
So again, let’s go to the chat box and answer this question. What’s one organization that you think you need to get involved in? I know some people are still answering the last question. I’m putting the pressure on you here. AFP, I’m glad to hear that I’m a big proponent, another AFP, Chambers of Commerce, another Chambers of Commerce. Well, I think I made my point those are the two who helped me the most AFP and local chambers.
But there’s other groups like rotary clubs and things like that, that you might think about a committee of AFP. Boy, all of your AFP chapters are going to be delighted. Sports Corporation, that’s a good one. Now in Las Vegas have just gotten recently . . . I don’t know I think we now have five sporting teams. And they’re actually doing a presentation for AFP on how to get money from them, which I thought it was great.
Other charities, the YMCA, CASE, Local Women in Development. Some organizations like Utah, I don’t think as an AFP chapter, but they have a development or a Nonprofit Professionals Association that’s another thing that you might think about. So keep thinking even though we’re moving on here.
And then setting goals, I really would like to hear from you about just one at least you don’t have to try and think of the all. But what’s your first goal that you think would be important for you to succeed in your career? Getting a CFRE, that’s a great one. Anybody else maybe . . . I know, I’m putting a lot of pressure on you in a short . . . wow, we have so many coming in so fast, I don’t know if I can read them all. Learn more than just writing grants, speak up and ask for more training, job with the primary responsibility being a fundraiser, and then a CFRE.
CAE, which is . . . I forget, the . . . Certified Association Executive, I think. So obviously Julie is involved in an organization. Stop consulting and align with an organization for long term. Major gifts exclusively. Considering a master’s in philanthropy. So these are really great goals that all of you had in mind.
So let’s move on and talk a little bit about how you’re going to find time to do all these. Well, for learning set a time frame, as I said, look at the things that are the most important for you to learn. And you’ve put some great things out there like planned giving and strategic planning. And then set a time frame. And make the case for why it’s important for your organization, and for you. Sometimes you have to make this case for yourself, you might not think it’s important, but you really do need to set a case for why you think it’s important for you to learn. Because you’re not going to get ahead if you don’t.
But also make the case for why it’s important to your organization. For example, if you learn more about developing a case for support, maybe you don’t have to engage a consultant to do that, save your organization money. It would be more effective, because you’re going to be raising more money. Somebody in fact said, “Find funding for my own and my team’s professional development. So maybe a capacity-building grant would help you internally. So those are some things that you really need to do is set a time frame. And don’t try to learn it all at one time because it’s really impossible to do that.
And then finding the time to get involved. You might think, well, gosh, you know, people in my organization are going to say “She’s never in her office,” or “He’s never in his office.” Well, good development officer is not spending all their time in their office. That’s why having a software system . . . Like when I entered this field, it was back in the dark ages when we didn’t have programs like Bloomerang that were so user-friendly. We had to have a full time person just managing data.
And if that’s the chief development officer who’s doing that kind of work, they’re not going to get anything else done. So make the case for we need a software system that’s easy to manage, and I can manage on the run. I can do it while I’m traveling, or from home or wherever. So you don’t have to really convince your boss if you can make it down to the bottom line. Look at how much money you’re going to save if you get me the kind of skills that I need. And if you allow me time to do things like go to chamber meetings, it’s going to pay off in the long run.
I think I mentioned to you, my contacts from the chamber were primarily what enabled me to get 150 business leaders raising a half a million dollars. Well that was well worth an hour and a half that I’d spend a couple of times a month going to chamber events and getting involved in those things. So it really pays off. So if you can present it to your boss that way, I think they’ll be much more inclined to support your involvement.
And then setting your personal goals this just as important as setting goals. And you use the same planning method. If you’re not familiar with strategic keep planning, or even your development plan, you know you need goals. But then you need objectives how are you going to get there? What are the things that are specific and measurable, and action-oriented and realistic, and time defined?
Okay, if I want to be a CFRE, I have to learn more about planned giving. So I’m going to take this specific course to learn more, and it’s going to take place. It’s going to take me a month to complete the course or whatever. So get very specific with your objectives when you start setting your personal goals, because otherwise, you’re going to be just kind of floundering around. And kind of the parting advice that I want to give you before we open it up to questions and answers.
First of all, is don’t give up. Sometimes it seems like it’s really a challenge. And this picture, you can tell I love traveling. And one of the things in my travel book is my experience in Titus Canyon which starts in Nevada and ends up in Death Valley. And it was amazing experience you drive . . . you can maybe see on that picture, a tiny little dirt road that you’re driving on. And the first 10 miles of it are kind of through the desert, which for me is beautiful. But for some people maybe would be boring just looking out and seeing nothing but cactus and dirt around you.
But sometimes our fundraising careers are like that. Some of the stuff we do is frankly boring as heck, you know. Who wants to clean up my mailing list, and who wants to figure out seating charts at a special event, that stuff really isn’t very exciting. Well then the next 10 miles of this road is exciting if nothing else. Because you’re literally clinging to the side of that mountain for about 10 miles and you’re driving on a one way, dirt road with a couple of inches on one side being about a 4,000 drop into the canyon. And the other four inches on the other side of you is the mountainside they are driving along.
So it’s kind of an exciting, but scary. And sometimes fundraising is like that, the exciting parts are sometimes the scariest thing that we do. But then when you get down to the bottom of this, and you’re actually going through the canyon, it’s the most amazing experience. You’re looking up at canyon walls on both sides of your car. Sometimes it gets a little wider, and there’s a space between you. But sometimes you’re right up against the canyon walls and to me, it was a beautiful experience. So I think fundraising is a lot like that. Sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s scary, but sometimes it’s also really beautiful.
So I think, you know, rather than giving up, it’s really worth the effort. This is another picture that I took a number of years ago on my first trip to Alaska. And we found this monastery with a stone labyrinth. And we were walking the labyrinth and all of a sudden I heard a flapping noise up ahead and there was a gorgeous bald eagle flying right over my head. So those are the kind of moments when I think in fundraising, sometimes we do feel like we’re kind of soaring with the eagles. And that’s what I think you should think about.
And then the other thing is to make sure that you have support. This is actually a picture of me going down a zipline in Boulder City, Nevada. And if you’ve ever done zip lining, it’s a fun experience. When I was probably about 70 years old, and most of the people with me were in their 20s and 30s. And they were kind of laughing like, “The older lady is coming down the line now.” I don’t know what they were afraid of. They were afraid I was going to have a heart attack or something. But I had a lot of support. It’s not really scary at all because you sit in this little seat and you hold on.
And I think you need support in this fundraising career. You need to have mentors. So I would encourage you by all means find a mentor to help you through this. And many AFP chapters have mentoring programs. In fact, my chapter tonight I have a meeting to go to talk about our mentoring program. So definitely find a mentor. And if you don’t have support from your employers, and you’re really in a negative situation, then sometimes I think you have to just be ready to kind of shake the dust and move on. And sometimes that’s hard to do. But you do need to have support, both from your employers, from your family and friends, and hopefully from a mentor.
So what you can do today, I think is learning about the areas that are most important to taking your next step. And think about taking some online courses. And I’m going to just give you a little shameless plug here for my online courses. Because I just made a drastic change in them actually today it went live. I have 13 online courses in many of the topics that you talk about. But I have a subscription that you can get for $299 if you sign up by this Friday. So I’m not going to belabor what all the 13 courses are I’ll give you the link and you can look at it.
So if you think you do need to do some learning, this link will take you to the description of one of the courses. But if you sign up for this, you automatically get the other 12 courses. This is your fundraising roadmap course and it’s a very intense course. It’s 20 lessons, it’s about 16 point 25 hours. And all these courses are approved for CFRE credit. So if CFRE is one of your motivating factors or if you’re already a CFRE and need credits to renew, this is one way to get them.
So again, you can sign up with this link and take those courses. So before we open it up to live question and answers, though, I did want to give you my contact information. Because I know you know, some of you maybe have to hang up and run to another meeting, or you just don’t have time to get all the answers in. But you can email me at [email protected] I have my website. And I have a link to the courses. So Steve, do we have some questions?
Steven: Yeah, we definitely have time for questions. So if you haven’t chatted them in, do so now probably about maybe four or five minutes. But first, thank you, Linda, really awesome presentation. Always love hearing your story. And I love that piece of advice. I mean, I loved all of it. But I really liked what you said about negotiating the continuing education payment during the job sort of negotiation. That was a really great idea I can’t imagine most people saying no to that.
So awesome, we had some questions pouring in here. I’ll kind of roll through them. We got one question here from Kimber. When did you know that it was time to move on? And any sort of general advice for people Linda of maybe when they should leave a job and you know, search for greener pastures perhaps?
Linda: You know, for me, it was kind of a definitive thing that I probably shouldn’t even tell you. But I was talking with somebody this morning about how life for women has changed in the workforce. And my first development job, when my vice president left, they named me acting vice president and I said, “Well, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring.” And the president of the university who was actually a female shocked me by saying, “Oh, well, I don’t think we could give you that job because women can’t raise money the way men can.” I said, “Well, I think it’s time to move on.” So that was very easy deciding figure for me.
But sometimes it’s just . . . like when you get up in the morning, and you’re not excited about going to work. There’s an old saying about people waking up and saying, “Oh, thank you, God, it’s morning.” And then there’s other people say, “Oh, God, it’s morning.” And if that the way you feel about your job, like “No, I have to go to work today,” then there’s something wrong.
And sometimes you can change it. I’m you know, nothing quit a job at the least little thing that goes wrong. But if you get to the point where every day, you’re dreading going to work, or you have knots in your stomach. I had one job in banking, where I actually developed an ulcer because my boss was driving me totally crazy. So I think you can kind of feel it in your gut. But again, here’s where a mentor might come in. Maybe they can help you, you know, come up with some ways of addressing the issues. But if your organization is just not supporting you at all, then I think, you know, it is time to think about moving on.
Steven: Yeah. I really love your advice of encouraging people to, you know, try to speak at conferences and write a book even, you know, do webinars, share their expertise, I think in general. And I just wanted to echo that. You know, I’ve been involved with organizing conferences. I sponsor 50 conferences a year with Bloomerang. And I know that they want speakers that are current practitioners. They don’t want to just have all consultants.
So know if any of you listening were maybe intimidated by that you know, I’d love to have you as a webinar guest, even you people listening. I’d love to have you write on the Bloomerang blog and to share something that, you know, worked or didn’t work.
And I think that’s really that’s one of the best ways. I mean, that’s how I sort of built my career as well is kind of sharing those lessons learned either bad or good things. So, Linda, any advice for maybe how to take that first step? Is it just a matter of, you know, speaking at those conferences and filling out those RFPs or how did you kind of get into that game early on?
Linda: The first time I did it when I decided that I wanted to do something I thought, well, I don’t have, you know, a great deal of experience in planned giving, in major gifts. But I said maybe there are people who really are just starting a development program. So I submitted a proposal on starting a development office. And ironically, AFP called me and said, “Somebody else submitted a proposal very close to yours. Would you mind doing a three-hour presentation one of the half-day workshops with this other person?”
We had never met each other, but we’re still friends today. In fact, we’ve co-authored a couple books together. And we presented at AFP. And I’m thinking, it was like the last day of the conference on Wednesday morning when everybody was ready to go home. And I thought if we have 20 people in this session, I think we’re doing good. And I think we had something like 175 people. And that’s what convinced me that I could be a consultant even though I didn’t have a lot of background. I said, there’s a lot of people that need to know how to get started, and I’ve done it, I’ve started development programs. So that was my area of expertise.
So look for an area that you’re strong in. And maybe it’s even not necessarily . . . all of AFP’s programs aren’t directly fundraising related. Like something like time management, somebody mentioned that. If that’s something you’re good at, submit a proposal and don’t give up, because sometimes you don’t get accepted the first year, but keep trying.
Steven: Yes, keep trying.
Linda: And try with a local chapter first, if you’ve present it at a local chapter, then that’ll be a good step to the next step.
Steve: [inaudible 01:00:36] trying to fill, you know, 12 a year maybe four some time, so they need the proposals. So I would encourage you all.
Linda: And some of these . . .
Steven: Well . . . go ahead.
Linda: . . . professional organizations like rotaries, they look for speakers. Most of them meet every week, and they always need speakers.
Steven: Good point. Yeah, good place to practice before may be getting into an industry event. That’s a great idea. Well, we’re a little bit over 3 o’clock Eastern, I just want to be respectful of everyone’s time. Linda, I know we didn’t get all the questions, but is it cool if people reach out to you via email? You’re on Twitter as well. You’re good Twitter follow too.
Steven: Good. Do it. This is great, Linda. Thanks so much for coming back. You’re always a good sport for being willing to speak to our little community here. So I always appreciate you doing it. So thanks, Linda. It’s fun.
Linda: Okay, thank you.
Steven: And thanks to all of you for taking time out of your Wednesday. We’ve got some great sessions coming up. We’re back on our usual Thursday schedule starting next week. My buddy Carol Hamilton, interesting topic for you all, how to conduct a strategic portfolio review. So you program and service people might want to check this one out. I think all you fundraisers will also get something out of it as well.
It’s going to be a good session. I got a peek at the slides earlier this week. It’s going to be a fun one. So 2 o’clock Eastern, eight days from now, a week from tomorrow. We’ve got lots of other webinars scheduled out all the way through the end of the year all into February already. It’s hard to believe but there is a topic there for you. We’d love to see you on another Bloomerang webinar sometime soon.
So we will call it a day there. Look for an email from me with the slides and the recording. I’ll get that out today I promise. And hopefully we’ll see you on another session. So have a good rest of your week. Have a good weekend. It’s not too soon to say that I hope and hopefully we’ll see you again soon. Bye now.
Linda: Okay, bye.