You are in charge of your career. You want to be the best you can be.
And you know that as great as on-the-job experience is, it’s not enough by itself to help you reach your potential.
You need to look beyond your desk to find the support you need.
The good news is there are a lot of ways available to you.
Here are some of the main ways you can improve yourself and maximize your fundraising skills. These range from free and easy to complex and expensive. I hope this helps you prioritize your own program of becoming the fundraising superhero you can be!
Read Fundraising Blogs
There are many, many blogs dedicated to fundraising. By my count, nearly 100 of them. There are another 100 or so more that cover other aspects of nonprofit work. They sometimes cover fundraising or topics useful for fundraisers to know. Blogs can be up-to-the-minute with what they share. They are the frontlines of innovation in fundraising.
That’s an extraordinary treasury of resources, nearly all of it completely free.
If you follow a handful of fundraising blogs, you will learn a lot about fundraising.
The downside: It’s a lot of random information. Bloggers post what they post when they post it. Not what you need when you need it. Google can help you zero in on the information you’re looking for, but it can be a struggle to find exactly what you need.
Worse, there’s no quality control for bloggers and blogs. I hate to say it, but not everything you see on a blog is accurate and useful. I’ve noticed that most blogs that routinely give bad advice tend not to stay around for long. But that doesn’t help much if you’re looking for specific solutions fast.
My advice, find a few blogs you enjoy and trust. As many as you have time for. Follow them. Pay attention to the value of their posts. Stay with the good ones, and drop the not-so-good.
Books about fundraising
Books are a bit like blogs: there are a lot of them, and a lot of really excellent ones. Unlike blogs, most books have to pass through some kind of quality control. So they’re usually better written, more carefully thought-through, and a lot more detailed than blogs.
They can really transform your abilities, because there’s something about the sustained discussion of a book that you can underline, annotate, and go back to again and again.
Books have an additional value you may not have thought about: the very fact that it’s a book helps people take what it says more seriously. Every organization should have a shelf of fundraising books. They’re there for reference. And to show people (including board members) that fundraising is a body of knowledge, not just a wild brainstorm anybody can throw together. Books can accomplish that for people, even if they don’t read them!
We’re all friends here, so let me be frank: not all fundraising books are great. Just because it’s a book doesn’t guarantee that it’s got the right stuff. But the quality-to-uselessness ratio of fundraising books is much higher than that of blogs.
There’s been a revolution in remote training, and that’s exciting for all of us. It’s affordable (sometimes even free), and it takes less time than attending training in person.
There’s so much online training available, you should be able to find training on just about any topic you need.
Moceanic has a rich library of online courses and webinars and a lot of fundraising topics – available only to members of The Fundraisingology Lab. We provide a game-changing combination of courses, experts, and community. It’s exactly what we had wished was available when we started out in fundraising all those years ago!
Professional membership organizations have a special magic. Most provide training materials and other support, but what really makes the difference is the community many memberships foster among members.
We hear this all the time from members of The Fundraisingology Lab: I love the training and support, but it’s the community that really makes a huge difference for me.
Memberships are affordable ways to connect with fundraising knowledge and people. They’re a great way to broaden your horizons and increase your joy in your work.
As excellent as online training can be you can’t beat the power of being physically present with other people. It can be profoundly energizing and lead to lasting transformation of your abilities and your career.
There are a lot of in-person conferences all over the world, many of them back after a pandemic hiatus.
The downside: a conference can be expensive. And takes a lot of time.
Still, it’s worth looking into.
You might have a conference happening not too far from you, which will cut down on travel costs and the amount of time away from your desk. Most of us have an active local Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter (or equivalent). Many of them put on dynamite conferences. Some of them aren’t so great, so you’ll want to ask around before you commit.
Then there are national (even international) conferences. You travel to get there. It takes days, as much as a week. It’s a serious commitment of both time and money. But there’s something powerful about getting out of your routine and focusing on the passion you share with other people. More than maybe any other way, you make new friends and learn new perspectives. I highly recommend that you travel to a conference now and then.
Working with a great mentor can be the most transformative way to learn and stretch yourself. Of all the training options here, I think this has the most potential to take you to great heights as fundraising.
When someone with more experience than you agrees to spend time with you and get into the details of your work with you, you’ve found a goldmine! (Except when you haven’t – more on that in a second.)
Most often, mentors come along with a job. They’re a co-worker or boss who has you as part of their duty. It’s possible to find a mentor outside of your organization, someone who is willing to spend the time because they know and care about you, or they want to give back.
Not all mentors are created equal. Not everyone has the skill, the focus, and the orientation to be consistently helpful. Sometimes they just don’t “click” with you. It’s hit or miss, unfortunately. But when it does click, it’s great!
Think of Coaching as “mentors for pay.” For the many people who simply don’t have access to a mentor, coaching can fill the gap. And do so very well.
Coaching has a couple of other advantages: You can choose the focus of the coaching to exactly fit your needs. In many cases, you get access to more than one coach with a variety of specializations. Moceanic offers coaching, with a variety of different specialists available.
Another advantage of coaching: If it isn’t working the way you need it to, you can simply stop and go find another source. That often isn’t a possibility with a mentor!
If you are interested in coaching, schedule a free call with one of our Fundraisingologists. They will give you great free advice, and help you identify which Coaching program might be right for you
Get the support you need, when you need it, all with a unique combination of hard-nosed practicality and a good helping of joy! Join The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. You’ll get the tools, the information, and the supporting community that will take you to new places in your fundraising career. Join the waiting list now and you’ll be the first to hear when the doors open again!
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