Joy at Work

I love being a fundraiser and I always say that, for me, fundraising isn’t a job but a calling.

So I got excited listening to Shankar Vedantam’s recent podcast, “How to Build a Better Job,” where he interviewed Amy Wrzesniewski, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management. My ears perked up because I know not every fundraiser is happy in her job. And there lots of reasons for that. (Psst! I don’t believe that there is a perfect job – one that will make you ridiculously happy. After all, that comes from inside YOU.)

“People who see their work as a calling are significantly more satisfied with their jobs, they are significantly more satisfied with their lives,” notes Amy. “They are more engaged with what they’re doing and they tend to be better performers, regardless of what the work is.”

This is great news. Because many of us in the nonprofit space are passionate about what we do. And sometimes, passion isn’t enough.

My maternal grandfather, T. Thompson, with his logging truck in 1943.

My maternal grandfather, T. Thompson, with his logging truck in 1943.

The truth is that too many within the sector work (or have worked) in nonprofits that are dysfunctional, have poor decision-making, or lack appropriate human resource guidance – to disastrous consequences.

In other cases, sometimes fundraisers become discouraged and leave because they aren’t allowed to do the jobs for which they were hired, are unable to unleash their creativity, or are blocked from making any decisions, even within the job scope.

This is where Job Crafting can come into play.

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New Path

I’m so excited to be looking ahead to my new job – I start June 29 at Simon Fraser University! I live in Vancouver, and Simon Fraser University (SFU) is located just outside the city limits, on Burnaby Mountain.

I’m so very excited to join the team there! I’ll be heading up the fundraising efforts at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  I’m excited to dive in and meet the faculty, the students and the other staff members – so many great departments. Can you guess which departments might be my favourite?

And I’ve got to give a shout out to Rory Green. She gave me a heads up the SFU was hiring and what a fantastic team they have.

I’m starting to think about my first 100 days and came across this article – which I think is a perfect read for fundraisers who may be starting a new job. My First 90 Days: Why You Should Have 30 Coffee Meetings. And if you are a new fundraiser, this is a great way to practice your relationship building skills.

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Recap of Love Your Job, Love Your Life

Fundraising heroes, nonprofit friends and craziness! L to R, Simone Joyaux, Tom Ahern, me and Shanon Doolittle

Fundraising heroes, nonprofit friends and craziness! L to R, Simone Joyaux, Tom Ahern, me and Shanon Doolittle


I just returned from Baltimore, Maryland. The 2015 Association of Fundraising Professionals conference was a cracker this year!

I had such a delightful time joining my pal, Shanon Doolittle, in a presentation on how to thrive in work and life as a fundraiser.

As fundraisers, we can be very passionate about our work – but sometimes it can lead to burn out. Or, it can steal from the time you want to spend with friends, family, or pursuing a hobby or education.

Because I care about our profession SO MUCH and Shanon is keen to ensure we continue to be high-fiving do-gooders, she and I curated a book!

You can download the e-book here: 9 to Thrive: Strategies to Build a Heart Happy Life and Career.

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Why We Ms.Rupt

I want to tell you about a project that Rory Green and I have been working on for about a year.

When we get together and talk – about fundraising, about the state of our profession – there were times we agreed that there is something paradoxical about working at a non-profit organization.

Our causes seek to be change agents, yet we deal with archaic systems, power dynamics and bureaucracy.

Our causes fight for human dignity, yet we find ourselves degraded by peers or leaders.

Our causes support women, yet we often do little to support one another as female fundraisers.

Our causes advocate for a better world, yet we experience abuse and harassment in our workplaces.

We uncovered these truths over cups of tea and glasses of wine. We discussed quietly, looking to the root of the paradox. We questioned, we challenged each other. We wanted to go deeper into these issues.

We wanted to be agents of change in our organizations – and to empower others to be the same.

We needed to speak truth to power.

We sought to question, to cage rattle. To change, resist, surprise, challenge, heal. To disrupt. Together as women.

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Finding Your Mentor

Finding Your Mentor

A few months ago, Brock Warner set up a mentoring tweet chat. (See the #NFPmentors from August recapped here.) I joined in on that one-hour wild keyboard ride because I believe that having a mentor is a great help in one’s career path. I had such a great first boss (I didn’t know how good I had), someone who allowed me to try, but who also guided me both as a fundraiser and about the politics of the institution. But I never really had another fundraiser who I could turn to who could help me sift through the challenging parts of my professional journey. I did try to connect through a program through the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy when I lived in Washington DC, but the connection just didn’t seem to be there.

Andrea McManus - I can't believe I don't have a pic of the two of us!

Andrea McManus – I can’t believe I don’t have a pic of the two of us!

But now, I think I’ve finally found my mentor! During my career I often the person I reported to if she or he would be my mentor. But it never worked that way. I think your boss can mentor you, but isn’t your mentor. And anyway, I’ve had friends who have been sounding boards, and colleagues who have been generous with fundraising experience and expertise. But I believe a mentor is someone who helps you become a better fundraiser and who may help you navigate the challenges of career and, perhaps, life? There are programs such as one at the Vancouver chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). That might be a great way to go, or through another professional organization to which you belong. Honestly, there are many ways to find a mentor for yourself. It may be as easy as making your interest known. Continue reading

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