This past week, the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Western New York held a panel on career moves in the non-profit sector. Each panelist found themselves in their current position through different means, but all had a few things in common.
- Be passionate- Having commitment to the cause you are working for will give you the motivation to work long hours and meet a demanding schedule. The desire to make a difference and see the goals of the organization met can serve as a guiding force through your career. Patrick Flynn, President of the Hospice Foundation of WNY was intrigued by the vision of Hospice and knew it was something he wanted to be a part of. So, he left his position at a tobacco company in the 90s to join Hospice. Since then, the organization has seen tremendous growth and Flynn was able to experience and contribute to the transformation.
- Find a mentor. Learning from experience is easier when you have a trusted source for feedback and support. Build a relationship where a supervisor or tenured individual can help you work towards big ideas and reach your goals. Often times, you work harder knowing that someone else is working to achieve the same thing.
- Consider obtaining CFRE certification. Certified Fund Raising Executive gives credentials to individuals in the non-profit field. Although optional, it serves a couple of purposes. It establishes legitimacy among peers and coworkers. Additionally, the certification tests on various facets of fundraising, so it allows you to acquaint yourself with diverse aspects of the field. The CFRE tests in various areas including: Prospect Identification, Solicitation, Donor Relations, Volunteerism, Management, and Stewardship. The exam indicates a level of competency that may be a distinguishing factor among your peers.
Buffalo is known for the amount of non profit organizations serving the community. What tips can you offer for those who are looking to start their career in the field?