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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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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The Beautiful Game

The Beautiful Game

I am surrounded by all things World Cup.

Tansley Nemean League

Tansley – Nemean League Champs

My husband is English by birth and played football (soccer) all his life, including semi-pro, until he immigrated to Canada.  He is football mad (in a stiff-upper-lip sort of way). And by far his happiest moment in life was being at Wembley for the win in ’66.

My daughter is working in Brazil, where the Copa Mundial is being played in 12 venues across the country. The entire population is going completely loucoTodo o Brasil celebra.

And although I’m not a massive fan, I’m still hoping Team USA wins because Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin of Seattle Sounders FC (from my hometown) are playing!

So naturally, I’m thinking about lessons fundraisers can use from the beautiful game.

You’re part of a team. Your team may comprise your area of fundraising, your entire fundraising team, or your nonprofit. And even if you are in a one-person shop, you still have a team – your board, champions and volunteers. A great Fußball team capitalizes on the individual strengths of each player to create a strong, synergistic whole.

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What Now?

I want to thank all of you who read my recent post and especially those who left a comment, sent a private message mentioning feelings and experiences, or simply shared by retelling, retweeting, or reblogging. I believe sharing my story was the right thing to do and I appreciated the supportive and moving responses.

It seems that each reader found something that she or he needed – some saw a story of harassment and exploitation, others saw it as echos of their experiences, a few saw workplace bullying, several found a new perspective, and a couple of readers used it as a call for better nonprofit workplace policies. Lots of you sent apologies and hugs.

Writing about my experience was deeply personal – I had removed the episode from my career narrative and even my husband didn’t know it had happened until I asked his opinion about posting it. The post had a lot of power because it was born at the nexus of the fear, pain, anger, misogyny, shame and disbelief expressed by #YesAllWomen.

WhatNowAnd not a few of you shouted, “OK, but now what?!”

Is there a culture of rape in the US and other countries? (Find a good definition from Marshall University.) Or is it simply abuse of power and privilege with another name? Isn’t it all just oppression by another name?

And if all this is woven into the fabric of our society, what can we do? How do we change a culture, the status quo?

The easiest thing is to do nothing. Inertia is the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion. People can be very comfortable with inertia.

But I would argue that fundraisers are not comfortable with inertia; our nature is to fight oppression in any and all of its many forms. We raise awareness, we raise funds so that our nonprofits will eliminate oppression, injustice, destruction, disease, poverty, ignorance, mistreatment, hate and more. We raise a flag, we rally the troops, we fund the fight.

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Liven Up Fundraising Events

Cutest cake? And made by the bride...

This past weekend I attended a wedding – a former co-worker and friend of my husband and me. It was an intimate celebration with many sentimental and delightful touches (including this cake, made by the bride).

One of the fun touches they added was asking guests to use Instagram to document the reception and dinner. Here is part of the email from the groom:

We are going to try to have some fun with any photos you take on your mobile using Instagram.  If you do not already have it, go to or the App Store to download and set up an account.  Become familiar with taking photos and adding captions or comments.  We will have a special hashtag that will allow us to share photos taken during the evening.  Not familiar with it?  No problem.  We’ll have technical support on hand.

When we arrived at the reception, we were given the hashtag to use: #GregSharon.

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