March 29, 2013

Half of Fundraisers in the Top Job Want to Quit.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

That’s the bold headline from a study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy that was released in January. It was cause for a lot discussion about the dearth of fundraisers and why the profession is so seemingly broken.

The study’s conclusions were unsurprising. They were also not fundraising specific. That same research has been done with people in most professions, including medicine, law, teaching and more. There is burnout, frustration and cynicism everywhere because our culture doesn’t cultivate meaning or recognize its power to transform our experiences.

In 1997, Amy Wrzeniewski at the University of Michigan and her collaborators released a study on the different ways in which we experience work, breaking it down into three categories:

1). As a job. It’s about financial reward. It is simply a vehicle to fund what is meaningful in a person’s life outside of work
2). As a career. It’s about advancement. Success is measured by recognition, reputation and results.
3). As a calling. It’s about making a difference. Work becomes an expression of ourselves in the world. It allows us to share who we already are – not who we will become – and how our core values and natural gifts are put into action. People who experience work as a calling often feel lucky to have the opportunity to do their work.

It is our relationship to our work, not the kind of work we do, that matters. The more we experience our work as a calling, the more we experience the personal meaning it has for us: what we stand for and what difference we can make. It insulates us from a sense of isolation, stress and fatigue and allows us to better tolerate the job and career aspects of our work. Coincidentally, I just interviewed a candidate for one of the top jobs at a friend’s nonprofit. In addition to resumes, he required all candidates to tell their story in one page or less. Specifically, he asked them to share: ”Why are you called to do this work?” Genius!

The next time you and your colleagues are feeling especially burned out, I recommend you host a Jeffersonian dinner (or a Jeffersonian breakfast, lunch or cocktail hour). Seated around your table – Jefferson would not be Skyping – share with each other why you are called to do your work and why it’s more than a job or a career for you. If after honest self inquiry you come up empty on “the calling” discussion, perhaps then it IS time to consider something else. But give Jefferson a chance before you hit the quit button.

Write Your Comment

  1. YourSoul

    What is "wrong" in my opinion is that so-called philantrophic organizations receive too much money back from taxes. If you think of it, we the "normal" citizens already pay soo much tax that we indeed fund those philantrophic organizations too. So why should they come up with advertisements to give more money to their organizations? Me personally do not give another penny to any of those philantrophic organizations. I rather give it to a small organization that really has the interest of the human being involved at heart without receiving tax money back for it!!

  2. sun

    Al;oha Hav you read Dan Pallotta`s books yet? Or seen the TED talkk he gave. It would reinspire you with anew vision with a charitible organization protection team. "The nonprofit sector is critical to our dream of changing the world. Yet there is no greater injustice than the double standard that exists between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. One gets to feast on marketing, risk-taking, capital and financial incentive, the other is sentenced to begging,” Dan Pallotta says in discussing his latest book, Charity Case. This economic starvation of our nonprofits is why he believes we are not moving the needle on great social problems. “My goal … is to fundamentally transform the way the public thinks about charity within 10 years.” Pallotta is best known for creating the multi-day charitable event industry, and a new generation of citizen philanthropists with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Day events, which raised $582 million in nine years. He is president of Advertising for Humanity, which helps foundations and philanthropists transform the growth potential of their favorite grantees.

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