The year was 2009. I had just graduated from university and knew I wanted to work in the non-profit sector but, like so many others, I had no clue how to go about building my career. None of my relatives were fundraisers or non-profit executives. No one I knew even worked for a charity. Without special connections or outside assistance, I had to learn how the non-profit sector operates the hard way. Despite this initial setback, I achieved several career milestones at a relatively early age and these accomplishments did not go unnoticed. As a result, aspiring and mid-career fundraisers often reach out to me to ask for career advice; to help them weigh the benefits of taking a specific course, program or designation; or to understand how they can emulate my success.
I think many are disappointed to hear me say that there is no silver bullet. I attribute my success as a fundraiser to being very thoughtful about my career development rather than to any one specific thing I’ve done. In order to be successful, you have to know where you want to go, develop a plan to get there, and then actually follow your plan. Of course, you will have to put in a lot of hard work along the way too. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and you will have to adjust course as challenges present themselves and new opportunities become available to you. Creating a plan doesn’t mean that your plan can’t change. But, if you don’t create a plan for your career, your career will happen to you instead of you taking charge and making it happen the way you want it to. [Read more…]