Where’s My Million Dollar Grant?

Today’s guest post comes from the Wildwoman of Fundraising, Mazarine Treyz, who relates a situation that many of us can relate to.

So, you just came into a new nonprofit.

In your interview, your potential boss said, “We’re making $500,000 a year now, and I want to ramp up to $1 Million this year.” And even though you were going to be the only development staff person, you said, okay.

You’re walking to your desk, it’s now month three.

Your boss yells, “SO! Where’s my million dollar grant?” (This actually happened to me).

What do you say?

Managing Up.

If your boss is unable or unwilling to set reasonable expectations for your position, let’s go over what you can do to manage yourself, and help your boss learn how to set expectations for you.

How can you measure your results without a million dollar grant?

Your first measurements for your position cannot be dollars raised. It takes a development staff person 12-18 months just to get into the flow of their position, to learn how to talk persuasively about the mission, and to get the fundraising office standard processes in place.

Measuring Your Results
Here is how you will tell them to measure you. You can say,
“We have the capacity to engage the community. My benchmarks can’t be net income yet. It can be numbers engaged in the community, how many people we talked with, or who attended our events.”

Your Benchmarks:
For example, you could measure:
How many standardized processes you made
Number of new people on mailing list
How many times we communicated
How many personal letters, emails, newsletters, phonecalls, thank yous, lunches, face to face meetings we did

What IS Reasonable for your boss to expect
Expecting you to show up on time, work from 9-5, and go home.
Treating donors well, and giving prompt thank yous on the phone or through a letter.
Having support for each aspect of your role from mentors and your boss.
Putting systems in place to thank donors, track grants, coordinate events, etc.

What ISN’T Reasonable for your Boss to Expect.
Expecting you to raise large sums of money in the first year all by yourself. You need to put systems in place in each aspect of your role before you can effectively fundraise.
Expecting you to fundraise for a brand new program or project they just decided to throw together, without regard for your capacity and other responsibilities, without consulting you.
Making $9.00 an hour asking people on a streetcorner to give. I wouldn’t work for that little. Here’s a post about why nonprofits expect you to work for so little. http://www.wildwomanfundraising.com/life-liberty-pursuit-wealthy-donors/
Social ostracism, alienating you, trying to make you feel not included due to ethnicity, gender, financial status, family background, sexual orientation, or other reasons.

Setting Your Magnificent Boundaries
Burnout in this industry is huge, SO. Develop boundaries. Good boundaries in development include:
Address inequalities of power. Be an ACTIVIST. This means speaking up when someone is chastising another person in front of you. This means looking at whether there is a culture of continual learning at an organization, or whether there is a culture of frustration, fear, and bad attitudes.
Get to know your co-workers, pay them genuine compliments on their work, and make yourself indispensable to them. This is how you can begin to take the persuader and activist ranks.
Surround yourself with supportive people who understand (other development professionals, mentors, etc), and give yourself credit for small victories.
Insist on weekly meetings with your boss, to help set and report on priorities.
Know the work will never truly be finished, so work from 9 to 5, and then go home. It doesn’t matter if you are salaried or hourly, you need to realize the cause will still be there in the morning.
Pay attention to what you do, and keep track of your achievements so you’ll be ready to be promoted or move to a better position.

If you want to learn more about how to manage up, this is an excerpt from Mazarine Treyz’s The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, exclusively available at http://wildwomanfundraising.com/store .

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