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The campaign for you: getting it together for your next job.

You've had enough of abusive boards and demanding staff--all for a cause that you'd lost interest in years ago. It's time for your next campaign--The Campaign For You.

If you're on the fundraising side of the nonprofit world, you might know all the tools, but maybe you never thought about putting them to work for yourself. If you're an executive director or have some other responsibility in your organization, this is an excellent way to learn about the methods and build up "campaign experience" to take to your next employer. Either way, all the elements are there.

In the same way you wouldn't start a campaign by creating your brochure first, you don't start your job search by writing a resume. Your Campaign For You, like your last fundraising campaign, starts with developing your vision and mission.

Just as in a campaign, having your own vision and mission could seem like spinning your wheels--especially when you're anxious for that big gift, or that big job. But, it's really the single most important step in your job search, and in the campaign process. Everything in your search comes out of this phase of the campaign. Doing this right can even determine how long you stay in your next job.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

* What part of fundraising is my favorite?

* What am I good at?

These are not "toss off" questions. Some people let the job they think they "must" do or get stand in the way of what they want to do or are talented enough to do. Life's a trade off, right? You can't do what you want because that's not what the market's looking for, right? Wrong. These are false trade-offs.

If you do what others demand and that's not in your skill set or you're not enthusiastic about it, you can't sustain the energy to do that job for any length of time. You burn out and suffer emotionally, and probably physically. You end up back on the street looking for another job, and in extreme cases, in the hospital.

This might be a good time to look at what you consider to be a "successful" career path. Let's drill down a bit. You might think that all development officers "must" write annual fund letters. Maybe you've done your share of letters, but are you good at it? More importantly, do you enjoy it? If you don't enjoy it, you are probably putting more energy into the process to be good at it because the task does not come naturally. That's okay; because you have more natural talents that you should pursue that are part of profitable fundraising--such as making solicitation calls.

Your task: Make a list of what in your development office you like doing, what you do well but don't enjoy, and what you avoid at all costs. Your Campaign For You needs to be a campaign to get a job that maximizes what you do well and enjoy, has a tolerable amount of what you do well but don't enjoy, and have the absolute minimum amount of what you simply are not good at and don't like.

It's simple to know what you are good at: ask someone else. Your natural talents are not always obvious to you, but they are to someone else because they envy them. Someone else is saying "gee, I wish I could do that."

This isn't idle talk. They really do wish they could have that talent. That talent seems so natural to you, because it is. Don't discount this, because your talents don't come naturally to others nor do their talents come naturally to you. Therefore take the list you made above, and pass it by a close friend, spouse or significant other, and have them confirm or challenge what you wrote, and add more. Find another person and do it again. It's worth a cup of coffee and 30 minutes at Starbucks to get a perspective on your future.

Now, one more question: To what cause are you committed? What do you feel most passionate about? Make your list of passions by asking yourself: what impacted your life. Was it a youth program, or the organization that took care of your parents? Did you always like the outdoors? Are your pets the most important thing in your life?

Don't be surprised that this isn't anything like the mission of the place you're now working. You've heard of "mission creep" in an organization? Well, there is "career creep" in professional lives. You started working for homeless children, and before you knew it you were at an art museum. Sure you can explain the steps rationally and it's probably a fascinating story. But now it's time to get back to your passion.

Why is the above the most important steps in your Campaign For You? By answering the above questions you've built the basis for your brain's "reticular activation system" to kick in. Your what? Have you ever wondered why right after you bought a new car, you suddenly see what seems like hundreds of them on the road when previously you barely noticed one? By defining what you are specifically looking for in something--a job, a car or whatever--you are emotionally focused. Almost right away you see more of what you defined. By clarifying your vision and mission you have started to define what you're looking for, and have made it much easier to find. Suddenly, the Campaign For You starts to take shape.

By way of review, here's your assignment this month:

1. Make a list of what you're good at doing in your job--what you enjoy and find easy.

2. Share that list with a close friend, colleague or significant other.

3. Make a list of what causes you're passionate about.

Next time we'll be taking the next step in your Campaign For You--setting your campaign goals.

Matthew A. Hugg is president of Fundraising Transitions in Collegeville, Pa. His email is
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:HUMAN RESOURCES
Author:Hugg, Matthew A.
Publication:The Non-profit Times
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 15, 2007
Previous Article:Not again: can't IS get anything right?
Next Article:New media: integrating new techniques into your traditional fundraising.

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