Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion.

Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

At almost 30 I still want to change the world. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and I still truly believe that I will do that in my chosen career as a fundraising professional. Some would call me naïve and others would call me ambitious. Recently, I have had two conversations with fundraising colleagues who had completely different vantage points on the topic of ambition.

Colleague One was saying that career ambition is something she feels she should have but does not. While this makes her feel guilty, she has reached the point of wanting the regularity of the 9 to 5 knowing that her non-work life would fulfill her. At the same time, she feels guilty because so many others in our peer group are working toward something different. She also feels a little judged because she found happiness at a level in her career that was/is not enough for others.DON'T QUIT

In contrast, Colleague Two has been chomping at the bit for nearly two years as a fundraiser, making connections and speaking with people on how to innovate their organization. He hustled in the best sense of the word and has not seen the results that he wanted. He says, he has become so frustrated by the sector not embracing his level of ambition he has considered leaving fundraising all together. He is motivated by his desire to support a family but blind ambition has impaired both that goal and his career. His blind ambition is not only impairing his career goals but because he cannot find a job is hindering his ability to reach personal goals, like supporting a family.

I find myself somewhere in the middle of One and Two. There are weeks where I network with industry colleagues almost every day, reading up to 20 fundraising blogs, and checking out job postings to make sure my skills are remaining competitive. Then there are weeks where I just want to go home and catch up with my old friend Netflix. The difficulty of being a young educated professional is that we are bursting with ideas but are not in a position to implement. Some of us are lucky to have supervisors who let us channel this creativity in our roles but I know this is not the case for most.

So what is one to do about all this? How do you channel your ambition is without any of the side effects my colleagues are experiencing? So far this is what I have found works for me:

1) Know thyself. What is your ambition driving you toward? To make a certain salary level, to reach a certain title, to be valuable enough to make your own schedule and hours, to be out of the office in time to take the kids to soccer, or all of the above? Know what it is you want and then be judicious about how you get there. Saying yes to anything is a good way to open doors but if you are not careful it is also a good way to lose focus.

2) Eyes on your own paper. Ambition can be fueled by jealousy and internal expectation. Do your best not to worry what others  and focus on what YOU can be doing to get where you want to go. It is an important reminder of what we all learned at a young age – it does not matter where anyone else on the test, or in this case their career, you will not succeed unless you focus on what you need to do.

3) This is a marathon. As a young professional, you have at least another 35 years ahead of you in your career. You cannot do it all at once.  It can be frustrating in the day to day when ambition or lack thereof is nagging at you but know that whatever you are working toward will all come with time.

As I approach my 30s, I realize that ambition is going to continue to be an important piece of my career puzzle. So fellow fundraisers – how did you figure it out in the early days of your career? Did you find that driving ambition was helpful or tempered level of ambition was just fine?

Let’s talk about it. @charitablelaura

Laura Campion PhotoLaura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.

 

Posted by & filed under Annual Giving, Campaign, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Laura Champion, Donor Relations Coordinator – Direct Response

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

I am bad with confrontation. My face turns red, I stare at my feet and my first instinct is to run and hide in the corner. It’s a good thing I’m on the phone!

But as fundraisers, we have all been there. The phone rings and on the other side is a very displeased donor. Someone has issued the wrong receipt, sent too much mail or not enough mail. Perhaps they were excluded from a guest list. The donor is unhappy and they want you to know it.

As a millennial, I have easily avoided phone calls most of life. Call display, voicemail, texting and email have made it all too simple for me to go through my whole day without actually speaking to anyone. This has made my conflict resolutions skills mostly text based.

But one of the reasons I am a fundraiser and more specifically, an annual giving fundraiser is that it gives me the chance to speak to so many people. Most interactions are positive and cause my heart to soar!  But every once in a while they are not the same type of inspiring.

laurachampion

Since I have met quite a few text based millennials among my fellow fundraisers, I have put together a few thoughts on how to maintain your composure and ease that pit in your stomach:

1) My motto both in the workplace and out is “Be a person”. Remember the reason that the donor is upset could be heightened by something else going on in their lives. It is a reminder to be kind, be honest and be present for those around you. A kind word from me may be all this donor needs to get through a tough situation.

2) Do not take it personally. It’s easy to internalize the criticism, especially if the mistake was your own. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. When you’ve completed the call with the donor, take a walk or get a coffee and settle back in. It is too easy to carry negativity – be careful not to let it burn you out.

3) Donors want to be heard. Whether it is a compliment, a complaint or a story, people want to feel heard. It is our job as fundraisers to understand that donors are giving to our organization because of a connection. When they take the time to call you – hear them. They are telling you what you can do to retain them long term.

4) Donors do not call unless they care. They do not want to leave your organization – they just want you to make it right. These crisis calls are an opportunity to learn more about these individuals and their motivation for giving.

5) Tell me about a time when… Remember you are always learning and growing in your role. These crisis calls may be difficult but it is important to think of them as an opportunity to improve your skills and gather material for the next interview!

With so much talk emphasis on being donor-centric and taking donors through their journey, we need to remember there may be some wrong turns or road blocks. Ensuring that everyone in your organization understands how to deal with dissatisfied donors without taking it to heart will lead to a healthier organization and a healthier donor base. Retention is the new acquisition.

And keep in mind – you are not alone. We have all been through a crisis – it is part of what forms a great fundraiser. Relationship management means working with donors when they are happy and when they are not.

Laura Campion Photo

Laura Champion is Donor Relations Coordinator at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She has a thirst for fundraising knowledge and is always open to discussion. You can find her on twitter @charitablelaura.