Know When to Go

This is to those of you who struggle with the thought of moving on. The thought that there is still so much you can offer, if only… The thought of finding a new job and starting all over with a new organization keeps you standing still in a bad situation.

In the nonprofit world, especially fundraising world, each of us brings our own experience and expertise to the position. And, if we are lucky, we learn new skills along the way. But what happens, as a fundraiser, when you realize it’s time to move on?

First off, job hunting when necessary is frightening. Bills don’t stop just because you don’t have a pay check. So, before you get to the point in your life that you are asked to resign, you’re fired, or you simply quit, take into account some warning signs that can help you know it’s time to go.

Warning sign #1: You literally don’t want to go to work. That may seem obvious, and we’ve all had those days when we didn’t want to go in. But does it happen more often than not? If you are not excited to go to work, as in…never want to be there, dread talking to the other people in the office, dread answering questions from donors… then it’s time to find something new. As fundraisers, how we feel about the organization we are raising money for shows through to the donor. If they can tell we aren’t into it, why should they give their hard earned money to it?

Warning sign #2: your boss has ghosted you. Your boss keeps cancelling your regular meeting or doesn’t have a regular meeting with you at all. There is literally no relationship between you and your boss outside of approving time sheets and vacation. Now, I’ve been the boss that has reschedule regular meetings for various reasons. And, without fail, it impacted the same person each time. What did I do? I called that individual, apologized for constantly having to reschedule, and we set a new time regular time to chat in hopes that it would work better with both of our schedules. I also made sure to check in (usually via e-mail) with her on a regular basis to see if she needed anything specific from me to do her job. Why did I do that? Because I didn’t want her to think she wasn’t an important part of the team. If your boss doesn’t value you as a team member, that may be the writing on the wall that your boss is ready for you to find something new.

Warning sign #3: You get drug through the mud no matter what you do. You are going along, doing your job as it has been asked for you to do, thinking you are doing a great job, and then your boss comes to you and wants to know what you’ve been doing – and why haven’t you done this – and why aren’t you doing that? If you know how to fill in the this and thats in this scenario, you’ve likely been in this situation. Again, this goes back to having a relationship with your boss – one where you both talk to each other and know the expectations of each other. If your boss is the type of boss to only point out what you are doing wrong and never compliment you when you do something right, then it’s time to find a new boss.

Notice these warnings are about people, and not necessarily the job. Most people, when they really think about it, leave a job or think about leaving a job because of a supervisor of some sort- either directly or indirectly associated with their position. Relationships at work are important. We often spend more time with our work family than our own family.

I’ve left jobs too soon, too late, and just at the right time for me. I’ve also accepted jobs just to get out of the current situation only to realize the grass isn’t always greener, even if the paycheck is.

Change is hard. And while my personality tells me to take on the new challenge, that same personality loves to fix things. I want to “fix” the current dilemma I’m in. “I can make this work.” “I will make this work.” “I will outlast this horrible situation I am in because I know I can make this work.” We can tell ourselves all sorts of motivational quotes to try to make our work situation better, but in the end, it’s probably the “It’s time for a change” quote that we need to listen to and accept the most.

Fundraisers move around a lot. CEOs know this. HR departments know this. Donors know this. But why do we leave? Often times, it’s the pressure of the job. I’ve heard many colleagues say, “They raised my budget again and think I can just magically make money appear. I’m not sticking around to fail.” The challenges are built up larger than we care to attack. And other times we realize the organization is simply not the right fit for us. Fit is important. If you aren’t a fan of animals, don’t take a job with the local animal shelter simply because you want out of your current position. Being able to passionately talk about an organization is what helps donors understand and believe in the mission. If you can’t put your entire support behind the mission of an organization, then that organization is not for you. And that’s okay! Sometimes we don’t realize it’s not the right fit until we get there.

There are many reasons to leave. And just as many to stay. If you are stuck in a rut, maybe it’s just that, a rut. But if you’ve been stuck in a rut for a while (and only you can determine what constitutes a while), maybe it’s time to update that resume, match it to your LinkedIn profile, and get your name out there. I’ve hardly ever turned down an interview because remember: you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

Locally, we have great nonprofit job boards to see what’s available including:

Best of luck to those who are ready to take the leap and start looking.

And if you are stuck in a rut, talk to your boss. See if together, y’all can pull you out of it.

Either way, we all want to be doing a job we enjoy!

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