Bait and Switch Development Job?

Dear Kim,

Three weeks after I had been hired as director of development for a group working with developmentally disabled children, my boss informed me that we may have to find a new location in six months to a year to house our charity and that all fundraising efforts would concentrate on capital funding. I was a little thrown off to say the least. I was brought on to build an annual campaign from scratch and now the story has changed. The group hasn’t fundraised in three years so therefore no funds have been raised let alone stewarding of previous donors. There isn’t even a database of donors that I can pull from. I’m creating a program from scratch. How can I develop a capital campaign when they have no donors? If this possible?
—Bait and Switch

Dear Switch,

I don’t like the sound of this whole thing, but I’ll answer your last question first. It is possible to develop a capital campaign without donors. (It is possible to climb Mt. Everest without carrying oxygen.) It is harder and often doesn’t work, but if you have foundations or even government agencies that like your work and sympathize with your need to move, they may foot the bill. The problem is that you can’t just switch to capital. First of all, your boss says you MAY have to move—well, do you or not? This will be a big factor in your capital campaign. Does your agency want to buy or rent? If you have to move in six months, you have no time to do a proper campaign, even if you had donors. When did your boss find out the group needed to move? If it was before you were hired, I would be mad that I wasn’t told.

I hope I don’t seem intrusive by doing the following, but I am going to ask a question for you and then give you an answer. Your question: “Should I quit my job?” My answer: “Yes, run for your life. Get out quickly and find an agency that can plan more than five minutes ahead. An agency that neglects its donors for three years, hires someone to do one thing and three weeks into her job, asks her to do something else, is not a good place to work. Cut your losses.