All Work and No Play

Dear Kim,

I have worked in the nonprofit sector for several years now. I am only 26, but have been an Associate Director at a grassroots nonprofit and am now a funding director at a grassroots partnership within a University. I also sit on many boards in our community. I have no one with fundraising experience managing me and have been frustrated in my position. I can’t decide if I just don’t like fundraising, if this position is just not for me, or if it is something else. I have thought about going back to school for a Masters or looking for another job, but I am at a loss at what would be best as a career move. I do want to stay in the nonprofit sector, but I am just not sure which path to take. Any suggestions?

Thank you,
—Need Advice

Dear Needs,

Have you ever heard the expression, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? It sounds like you are doing too much that involves fundraising. Your day job is fundraising and then you sit on “several” boards, which is bound to involve fundraising, which means a lot of your free time is also fundraising. Get yourself down to two boards–that’s plenty. Go to the movies, take a hike, go to a cafe and read a novel. Then focus on what exactly is frustrating you. I could guess that you want to learn more, but have no one to teach you. Perhaps you should take some fundraising courses (unless you want a Masters degree, I wouldn’t learn fundraising that way), or perhaps you want to work for a more experienced development director in a different job. Perhaps you have too much autonomy in your job and you need a group of advisors to bounce ideas off of, and to give you some feedback. I hope you stay in the nonprofit sector–we certainly need committed, hardworking people. But all of us need to learn how to balance work and leisure. Good luck with that.
—Kim