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Starting a new Charity Job

06/09/2013

In the same week I received a video rehash of ‘what fundraising directors should do in their first 100 days’ and my wife was offered a new job. Having watched the video and re-read Kivi Leroux Miller’s free guide (click on the image), I started to think that there is a pretty healthy list of other things a new fundraiser can do that

Free Guide from Kivi Leroux Miller

Free Guide from Kivi Leroux Miller

aren’t so ‘strategic’ to help start a new role in the right way.

I should explain what I mean by right; setting strong foundations to be effective beyond that honeymoon (however long it is). Here’s an experienced-based list of things I think we could all consider when the time is right for a move:

  • Get to know your team, colleagues, peers and boss. So much is written about the efficacy of emotions and personal connections to a cause in fundraising activity, so spend time getting to know those around you on that level. Being able to empathise and relate to your teams makes working together in such an environment easier, particularly if times get tougher and you all need to find that ‘something extra’.
  • Find out what’s expected of you and your team (if applicable) very early on. In my experience, it’s hard to manage and support folks to deliver targets they don’t understand or weren’t aware of. From the newbie’s perspective, why would you not want to know what’s expected of you and have the opportunity to comment or contribute very early on.
  • Work out who your potential ambassadors and champions will be and plan on how to work with them for mutual benefit. This isn’t manipulation, it’s recognising that there will be people in your new charity that can make things happen and if you can help them deliver their objectives too, you will have an ally in meeting yours.
  • Unless you’ve been brought in to quickly solve a problem, don’t change everything on day one just to evidence that you’re making progress or because you feel the need to stamp your authority. I’ve seen many times ambitious people arrive and start to make changes immediately without giving themselves the time to understand what changes are really needed. Needless to say, this doesn’t always engage with the incumbent teams.
  • Learn from your team and peers. If you ask, they will more often than not share important information with you that you won’t find written in any manual or within an official internal update.
  • Don’t forget that even the most junior person already in the charity probably knows more about it than you! Include them in your fact-finding and ideas gathering.
  • Try not to burn bridges with your previous employer (if possible…). You never know when a contact might be helpful or you might need access to expertise from a previous role.

This is just a short list and not meant to be an instruction manual. What would you add from real-world experience? If we get enough comments, we will publish a new ‘real-world’ list for everyone to benefit from.

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