Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership

5: New to Nonprofit? 5 Ways to Hit the Ground Running (Mike Blackwelder)

November 18, 2019 Patton McDowell / Mike Blackwelder Episode 5
Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership
5: New to Nonprofit? 5 Ways to Hit the Ground Running (Mike Blackwelder)
Chapters
Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership
5: New to Nonprofit? 5 Ways to Hit the Ground Running (Mike Blackwelder)
Nov 18, 2019 Episode 5
Patton McDowell / Mike Blackwelder

005: New to Nonprofit?  5 Ways to Hit the Ground Running (Mike Blackwelder)

SUMMARY

One of the challenges of starting a job in the nonprofit sector is the volume of information, skills and experiences you’re trying to learn and manage, often without adequate on-boarding support from your organization.  If that challenge is one you’re facing, or you want to do a better job helping develop your staff talent, this episode is for you.  Mike and I explore five ways you can accelerate your journey on the nonprofit path with practical tips, ideas and resources.

ABOUT MIKE

Mike Blackwelder is a nonprofit and fundraising professional who has been on the leadership path for over a decade. He serves as Managing Director for PMA Consulting, and has extensive experience in fundraising, management, strategic planning, communications, and nonprofit administration. His nonprofit career includes positions at United Way of Central Carolinas, Boys & Girls Club of Cabarrus County, and Safe Alliance. In his most recent position as Chief Advancement Officer at Safe Alliance, Mike managed a team of development staff and led the agency's fundraising, marketing, volunteer, and advocacy efforts.  Mike received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Campbell University, a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and an MBA from UNC-Charlotte, and recently became a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Mike is also very involved with the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), where he currently serves as Board President.

EPISODE TOPICS & RESOURCES

·      What questions should you ask in your first 90 days on the job?

·      The First 90 Days (Michael Watkins)  

·      Identifying key goals and challenges of the organization 

·      Mike’s keys to staying organized; to-do list and email management 

·      Strategic networking: comparable and aspirational peers

·      What skills and experiences should you master?

·      Importance of self-care

·      Creating of personal development plan

·      Maximizing professional development organizations like AFP

·      Mike’s Pick: Donor Centered Fundraising (Penelope Burk)

·      Mike’s Pick:  Achieving Excellence In Fundraising (Hank Rosso)

Show Notes Transcript

005: New to Nonprofit?  5 Ways to Hit the Ground Running (Mike Blackwelder)

SUMMARY

One of the challenges of starting a job in the nonprofit sector is the volume of information, skills and experiences you’re trying to learn and manage, often without adequate on-boarding support from your organization.  If that challenge is one you’re facing, or you want to do a better job helping develop your staff talent, this episode is for you.  Mike and I explore five ways you can accelerate your journey on the nonprofit path with practical tips, ideas and resources.

ABOUT MIKE

Mike Blackwelder is a nonprofit and fundraising professional who has been on the leadership path for over a decade. He serves as Managing Director for PMA Consulting, and has extensive experience in fundraising, management, strategic planning, communications, and nonprofit administration. His nonprofit career includes positions at United Way of Central Carolinas, Boys & Girls Club of Cabarrus County, and Safe Alliance. In his most recent position as Chief Advancement Officer at Safe Alliance, Mike managed a team of development staff and led the agency's fundraising, marketing, volunteer, and advocacy efforts.  Mike received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Campbell University, a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and an MBA from UNC-Charlotte, and recently became a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Mike is also very involved with the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), where he currently serves as Board President.

EPISODE TOPICS & RESOURCES

·      What questions should you ask in your first 90 days on the job?

·      The First 90 Days (Michael Watkins)  

·      Identifying key goals and challenges of the organization 

·      Mike’s keys to staying organized; to-do list and email management 

·      Strategic networking: comparable and aspirational peers

·      What skills and experiences should you master?

·      Importance of self-care

·      Creating of personal development plan

·      Maximizing professional development organizations like AFP

·      Mike’s Pick: Donor Centered Fundraising (Penelope Burk)

·      Mike’s Pick:  Achieving Excellence In Fundraising (Hank Rosso)

Speaker 1:

Welcome to your path to nonprofit leadership. I'm Pat McDowell and I'm your host and happy to bring you this podcast, which explores the very best in productivity and professional development in the nonprofit sector. You know, one of the challenges of starting a job in the nonprofit world is the volume of information and skills and experiences you're trying to manage often without much support from your organization. If that challenge is something that you're facing right now, this episode is certainly for you, Mike Blackwelder and I explore five ways you can accelerate your journey as you start on the path through this nonprofit world and offer practical tips and ideas that Mike has experienced and shared with many in his consulting and coaching practice. Stay tuned up next. The next step is sewed of the path to nonprofit leadership. Mike, thanks for joining me on the path to nonprofit leadership and I am grateful for our conversation. You and I've had previous discussions about the nonprofit , that sector and how we both are having conversations with a lot of folks who are interested in joining it or they're in it and still trying to determine their path forward as they seek leadership opportunities. And of course in your role as president of the AFP chapter here in Charlotte, you're run into a lot of these folks as well. But before we talk about some of the advice and counsel we offer folks considering these questions, tell me about how you got into , uh , the field. What brought you to the nonprofit path that you're on right now?

Speaker 2:

Sure, absolutely. Happy to share. Um, first of all, thanks for having me on. I appreciate the opportunity to continue this conversation. Like you said , um, with our roles at PMA and AFP, we have a lot of these conversations with a lot of people, so I happy to continue that. So what got me into the nonprofit field really , um , about a year or so after college and I w I went into college is what I get a lot of most people or some people do, you know, how do I get out and earn the most money? But quickly realized after graduating that wasn't , um, the top priority for me. So I really wanted to do something that was just more impactful that I could , you know, go good about when I went home at night and I feel like I was making some small difference in the world. Um, I had done a lot of volunteering with , uh , the ALS association to Zs . My brother was diagnosed with , um, when I was in college, so I'd started volunteering heavily with them. And a friend of the family who had previously worked at United way of central Carolina said, you know, why don't you try working for a nonprofit? And honestly, I was probably the 22 at that point. The first time that concept had ever entered my mind. I worked at a nonprofit. It just, I hadn't clicked before. Um, but he suggested it. And in United way here in Charlotte used to have these big , uh , temporary positions that would come in. They'd bring in 30, 40 outside people to do contract work on their campaign during campaign season. So , um, I applied for that and got a position and luckily I was placed in Cabarrus County. Um, so I got to, I was the only , uh , a campaign person out there, so afforded me the opportunity to really, well, you get to know the funders in the community , uh, the community leaders and the nonprofit leaders as well. So I really got a great , um, introduction into all things nonprofit in that community. So I was hooked. Um, I , I was in that role for about six months until that contract ended and immediately was picked up by one of my , uh, agencies from United way, the boys and girls club in Cabarrus County. So it was brought on as their development director for , uh , four and a half years or so. Um , a small shop there , kind of were all hats as , as many of us do in development roles. And then , um , eventually moved to a safe Alliance and Charlotte was , uh , worked with them for five and a half years. So it was Sarah chief advancement officer before , uh, coming to where I am now with PMA consulting . Mike. That's great. And isn't it typical? So many of us came into nonprofit through a side door, myself included. Uh , what did you study in college and what , what did you, did you have any sense of what you wanted to do based on the actual undergraduate experience? You know, I really didn't. I , um, I went into college with a pharmacy track and learned quickly on I hate chemistry and it's kinda hard to be , to be a chemistry. So , uh , quickly switched majors and went into a business and I thought that was a general enough to kind of give me some latitudes where I might want to go upon graduation. Um, so I did the business track and , um , then somehow I ended up in nonprofits . The rest is history. Right, right . Well , and it's, you know , I think it reinforces to our listeners that , uh, the non, your nonprofit career path can start from a lot of different starting points. And while there are an increasing number of , uh, collegiate programs that are directing folks into nonprofit work, many of us still come from other areas and indeed there are transferable skills that a lot of folks that we will talk to and we'll talk about in this episode, certainly have , uh, opportunities ahead. Um, as you know, this podcast, Mike also focuses a lot on productivity, acknowledging that the nonprofit world , um, is, is frankly a high volume of content coming at you no matter what you do. And you've

Speaker 1:

certainly experienced it from nonprofits, large and small. How do you stay organized now that in the consulting role, but maybe throughout your career, how do you keep track of everything that's kind of been thrown at you?

Speaker 2:

I , I would say productivity is something that I , uh, work work at , uh , continuously. Um, I forget decent job of , of managing multiple projects, but I think it's always something that, you know, we can all improve on. And , and find ways that work for us and read some books and some other materials on productivity and not everything works for every person. So you gotta find what works for you. But for me, I'm a, I'm a big list person. I love what make him out to do lists . Sometimes I'll add items that I've already done just so I can cross them off. Yeah. But I liked Les that are functional that you can kind of keep with you as you go through your work day , your work week and add things to them . Mark things off. Um, one thing I learned early on is to break down some of those bigger items. So if you have something like, you know, create a development plan or plan for this upcoming event, those are huge items. That's gonna take a lot to cross off your list. So kind of break that down into smaller pieces that you can actually get done. So it's not just this big thing on your list that kind of scares you away from, from actually getting things done. I also , uh , right

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

email management's always been. Um, just from my last position, kind of at the top of the organization, getting lots of emails from lots of people. And then I'm currently now is , you know , AFP president, I'm in a consulting role, emails coming all the time. So one of the things I was recommended to me and I've, I tried to stick with as much as I can, is check your emails when you have time to fully respond to them. And it's tough to do because we have phones, we have watches, we have, you know , so many ways to access our emails and you're waiting on a meeting or waiting in an elevator. It's habit just to pull up your emails, but the time it takes to pull up an email, read the content that's in there, then flag it or say, okay, I'll save that for later. And eventually you come back to it, you know that it adds up. It's time wasted. It's time you did not spend doing something else. So I'm really waiting to dive into those emails when you have the time to sit there and give them the response they deserve.

Speaker 1:

It's great advice, Mike and I often, as I listened to search committees and nonprofit organizations, when they're looking for folks, my advice is always, there's no right answer, but I think you just want to hear from a good candidate that they have a method, whether it's electronic or handwritten, to collect all of the data being thrown at them. And then do they have a means to prioritize it and get it done? And you're right, email management, it seems to be such a high volume mechanism for individuals and organizations. So you're smart to recommend to folks to get ahead of that and do it efficiently or they're going to get buried in a hurry. I'm sure that's a great segue maybe to, you know, among the many advice areas that we talk to folks and our episode today, indeed , uh, is addressing the hypothetical , uh , someone considering nonprofit work. And you and I bounced around a lot of the kind of standard advice we have or discuss. Um, in your AFP role, you've got a lot of folks, guests may be to a monthly meeting or just joining as full members, eager to get involved. So where do you start? Eh , I'm the, I'm the newcomer to a community. I've joined AFP. I want to work in nonprofit. What is your maybe first piece of advice you would offer someone like that trying to get into the field?

Speaker 2:

Sure. Well, I guess I'll say it kind of depends on where they're coming from. And you know, with AFP we getting new members from all over the world . Like you said, they may just be new to the community, they may be new to the field or new to a position. So my answer might adjust somewhat based on what category they fit into. But usually it's kind of knowing your skill set and , um, what you currently have to work with. So if you're brand new , uh , you're just getting started in fundraising, what area are you working in and what areas , um, can you build out? You know, we have some positions that are very specific , uh , annual fund manager, grant writer, event coordinator. So the, you kind of know which lane that you're in in those positions. Uh , but more often then the not , we have positions that um , development director or development associate that encompass lots of different activities. So , um, kind of get an understanding, get a handle on all of the different aspects of fundraising and what that entails and trying to develop an understanding of each of those areas and uh, which, which ones you feel strongly and maybe some not so strong , uh, what areas you'd need to grow in order to , to , um, continue your career. So that's usually a good starting point just to kind of see what knowledge they currently have and , and what areas they could build out on.

Speaker 1:

That's a great point, Mike. And I know you and the Charlotte chapter have done a good job of developing w I guess we call affinity groups, which would allow someone to, maybe depending on their experience or what they aspire to get more experience, is that one way they can better take advantage of a professional development resource like AFP?

Speaker 2:

Yes, absolutely. And happy to talk about all the great ways to get involved with AFP Charlotte. But , um, affinity groups are a great way for members to get involved. Um , think we currently have six that are usually topical around major gifts. We have one round plan planned giving or an annual fund. So these meets anywhere from monthly to quarterly to just do a deeper dive and talk specifically about that topic. Um, a lot of times our luncheons for AFP are , uh , more general , uh , or in order to attract a broad , broader base. Um, they may not be as focused on one of those specific areas. So the affinity groups allow a smaller group to get together and really have deeper discussion on those areas. And we do see a lot of people , um, for planned giving. For instance, a lot of people will come to that group who are planned giving experts and do it day in and day out, but some people will attend and they just want to know more about it. It may be just a small piece of their job. They may be looking for that as a way to grow their , um, fundraising skills. Uh, so people in all different levels of experience will come to those. And, and I will say a new affinity group that just started maybe two years ago was the new professionals group. Uh , and it really was intended to be , um, people brand new to the field , uh, nonprofits in fundraising. But that one has grown so much and it's , it's grown to include people in new positions , uh , people new to the sector, people new to town. So it's, it kinda is , uh , draws in everyone , uh, and they can really have the opportunity to speak about any issue that they're dealing with, whether it's being new to town or, or new to a nonprofit or new to the sector.

Speaker 1:

Right . That's a great point. And I'm thinking for a listener in any community , um, obviously AFP chapters exist , uh, across the country in a war around the world. But you know , if it's not AFP, your point of just simply taking advantage of a professional development organization. Cause I do think there are a lot of folks who kind of come passively to the monthly lunch and learn which exists I guess in any professional development association. And your good point is, you know, take advantage of some of the subsets within an organization. Uh , obviously those are smaller settings and probably more interactive and would allow you to build your, not only your skillset but your network , um, to, you know, get better in the field. Um, that's something Mike, I've heard you talk about as well and I guess is you talk to people new to the community. They always say, you know , I want to network or whatever. Um, how do you advise someone , um, to, to kind of network in , in terms of improving their professional development opportunities?

Speaker 2:

Sure, absolutely. I think I didn't quite understand that or have a good grasp on it early on in my career. But I've, I've realized that it's such a huge part and , you know, developing your career and advancing yourself , um, I can't stress enough how important that networking is, even even as an introvert where networking can sound scary. Um, it's really not, it's, it's vitally important to your career and , and, and not , um, something that's unattainable. So of course I mention , you know, AFP, but any professional organization where the chamber or , um, just any, any group where you can be around peers , um, around folks who are doing the same type of thing that you are being able to have those people to turn to and to ask for advice, confide in when you are dealing with an issue or honestly just to complain to when you don't know how to deal with something. Uh , it's just so valuable. Um, and just to hear different perspectives and different experiences. A lot of people have gone through the exact same thing you're going through, even though you may not think that's possible. Uh, so just to hear a different perspective or experiences , um, it's very impactful. And so I try to encourage people to, and I've had the as you would as well patent , have the advantage of being in the Charlotte market for awhile and so can, if someone's new to a position can look around the landscape and kind of see some comparative positions or uh , or organizations or people throughout the community. So, you know, this person's might be doing the same type thing that you're doing. So you should go talk to them and, and figure out , uh , and bouncing ideas off each other. I think the same thing happens when you are deciding to, you know, move along in your career or looking to move along if , if you know, somebody within an organization or you see a position that that's what you aspire to. Um, making those connections and trying to work those relationships early on. I know I have a friend now who is a tr development director, has been doing that for many years. She wants to be a executive director. She's very clear about that. So she's being very proactive and identifying executive directors in the community to have a fund raising development background that she can, you know, talk to connect with nature , become part of her network so that , um , she can clean from their experience as well.

Speaker 1:

I love that example. And I going back to one of the first things you said and that's the kind of topic I think a lot of people do envision networking as some vague after work, socializing, you know, handing out business cards in a large group. And in fact, I don't think that's very productive. And I like your approach to being intentional. Who are folks that are doing the job that you want to , uh , you know, do or aspire to do and , and being a strategic, find two other people that are doing it. And I find most people in the nonprofit sector are willing to talk to you and if you are kind of polite about it , uh, they'd be willing to have coffee with you and talk about their role. And so that, like the friend you described , uh , I bet she could do that very well. Identify executive directors that are in a role that she'd like to be and take them out for coffee and say, Hey, tell me what the realities of your job are and what skills and experiences do I need to acquire to help me succeed, you know, someday to do a job like yours.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I completely agree. And I think , um, both parties can really benefit from that type of engagement. And I was at a mentoring event this morning, a group of mentors and mentees. And , um, one of the things that I , I spoke to the group about is how valuable it is to people on both sides. So no matter how advanced you are in your career, when you're talking to people about development and about fundraising and just the fundraising landscape, you're going to pick up new tidbits here and there. You're going to get a new perspective. So , um, even that person that you're asking for coffee, that you know, you're asking a favor of them, it can be impactful and helpful to them as well. So you know, to look at it as a benefit for both and not that you're a burden on someone. I think that's important.

Speaker 1:

That's a great point. I've, I've heard the phrase that when you , you're trying to get better at your position and your skills and experiences, having to teach it, so to speak is a great way to reinforce it. So explaining what you do to someone else , uh , often will bring insight to you, not just to the person that's kinda benefiting from your experience. And you know, something else, Mike, I have suggested to folks is they explore networking, particularly new to a community. And , and again, I'll use AFP as the example, but I think there would be equivalent professional development organizations is go to the local AFP website and see who's on the board of directors. Uh, folks like you, Mike, that are in a volunteer role on the board , uh, are more than likely willing to, to be a networking friend. And so I've suggested when people, you know, arrive into a community, go to the AFP or equivalent website, look at the board and see if there are individuals and organizations they represent and reach out to them because I bet they are more predisposed and willing , uh, to, to meet with you or talk to you because of the role they've taken on. But would you agree that most of your colleagues on the AFP board would likely consider something like that?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I completely agree with that. And I think that's something we talk about regularly in board meetings that we as board members should be more present and it should be more intentional about, you know, it's great if people want to come find us. I hope they do, but let's do a better job of finding them as well. So , uh , we will look at registrations for meetings and see who's a new member on our list and find someone on the board that can identify them and hopefully sit with them and , and do some introductions. But at the very least, just meet someone and welcome them. But hopefully we can help build some of those connections too . And , um, I think that helps people get acclimated to , um , their role. But also to fundraising in Charlotte. And , um, one of the things that we've talked about a lot and of my peer group at AFP board is , um , a lot of people do fundraising and come to fundraising with no background and , um, may not always do things the right way or the , um, according to best practices. But if the fundraising world as a whole, if everyone doing fundraising in Charlotte is doing it the right way, it benefits us all so, right . You know, right. If we're all doing things the way, if we're all doing great fundraising, it benefits the, the sector as a whole. So I can't stress that enough

Speaker 1:

cause all it takes is one of these negative stories, right, of a fundraiser , uh , behaving inappropriately. And that seems to go more viral than all the good work that's going on at philanthropic organizations. Cause one donor has a bad experience. Sadly, they are quick to share it, aren't they?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. You hear , you know, bad donut or experience in the news, a , um , some ethical issue maybe with the organization and it just kinda, it spreads like wildfire and your organization may have nothing to do with the situation, but people that know you well, your donors, your volunteers, they'll start asking questions, you know, well, what happened? You know , how did this happen with them? Could have happened to us, what our numbers look like, what are, you know, it can, it can increase the scrutiny of, of all nonprofits just because something is done and um , and , and not the best way in somewhere else.

Speaker 1:

Uh , it's a great example. I mean, not that anyone wants it as a great example. Uh, it is an example of, of caution and perhaps if I'm a newcomer to an organization, you know, I need to understand those things. Uh, related to ethical fundraising. AFP of course, is a huge proponent of those practices. But I would say if , if I'm a newcomer, I need to talk to the leadership in my organization about how we deal with certain issues that perhaps fall in a gray area. And it leads to a question I was going to ask you, Mike and hearkening back to your earliest days in the nonprofit field. Were there certain things that surprised you or you as you talk to people that have just started, are there certain topics or questions or issues you think that hit the newcomers that perhaps would help? Those of us? I mean, those that are listening to this episode consider.

Speaker 2:

Sure. Um, I think there's seen some consistencies both when I started in the field, but when new people are coming in as well. And , and I have to state the obvious first. Uh, the amount of work and comparison with the level of pay is, there's often unfortunately a big disparity there. Um , a friend of mine , uh , recently came into the nonprofit field and for years he's given me a hard time of, Oh, you work in nonprofit shuttle, you know, it's not a real job. You don't really work. And the past several months he's like, how do you do this? Like the work never stops. It just keeps on coming. Um, so just there is a heavy workload in, in our industry. It doesn't always , um , equal what the pay might or you think it should be. But , uh , it's a good time to kind of get people early on to set that work life balance and make sure they're practicing self care and taking care of all that stuff early on. Um,

Speaker 1:

yeah, I'm glad you can reference, Oh, sorry to interrupt you, but I'm glad you referenced that. Cause that, that to me is critical advice. You know, the, the passion for the cause might carry a newcomer to the field for a while , but the volume will catch up with you if you don't have systems in place. Like what you you described earlier. And that strikes me as really important advice to give someone one awareness that you're going to have a lot to do and the more you can be productive and organized, the better.

Speaker 2:

Yes, absolutely. And that, I can't say enough about work life balance and um, I don't think I really respected that term enough until my last position. It was an organization that dealt with some very, very serious issues. Some , uh , clients who've been through some very heavy trauma. And so we talked a lot about vicarious trauma and uh , kind of taking on the trauma that you see that you work with people day to day. Um, so the organization really emphasize self care and that's when I really grew that respect , uh , for that term, whether it's work life balance or self care. And you don't have to be in an agency that as it deals with traumatic issues, it can happen anywhere because the workload is just so big. So being aware of that early on and then kind of setting boundaries and knowing what you can do to , to kind of offset heavy workload is really important.

Speaker 1:

Well, what , what's an example, Mike, again, you were in a , in a lot of the human services nonprofit folks obviously are dealing with some very tough issues that it's hard not to take that home with you, but how did you create a boundary so that you weren't emotionally fried from the things you were seeing every day?

Speaker 2:

Well, I had a really good peer group in my former organization. There were several of us at the same level and you know, if there was something particularly traumatic, whether it's something that happened with a client or you know, we had a staff of 90, some something that happened with our staffing, we could always go to each other and kind of bounce ideas off or just vent to each other, which was very, very helpful. But I, not every day is perfect in a nonprofit and you have events and socials and things to go to. But on a , on a given day, I would try to stop my day at a certain point. Uh, I would go to the gym and that would be my place to kind of decompress , uh , kind of turn off my mind for a little bit. And there, there were some days when I have to go back home and do a little more work, or maybe I had to go into another event, but just to make sure that I cleared out some space within each day or as many days as I could , um, where I'm just, I'm clearing my head. I'm not thinking about what's going on at work. That was really important to me and still remains important to me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's fantastic. And that you use the phrase self, which I think is appropriate. You know, how do people take care of , uh , you know, we other episodes are going to get into this more, but certainly you referenced exercise and fitness, eating right and getting sleep. You know, I think that's one of the fascinating , uh, areas of science that we don't fully understand, but I've seen a lot of our friends in the nonprofit community that frankly are exhausted and they can contribute to that , uh, ongoing exhaustion because they're not getting enough rest. And so it sounds like you had some very intentional kind of methods to help keep yourself sane.

Speaker 2:

Yes, absolutely. And I agree. The sleep and all that's very important into it . Just making sure you're taking care of yourself and in order to do the best work you can do

Speaker 1:

well. Well put. And , uh, we've talked about a variety of areas. I wonder as you ponder your mental list, so to speak, of other advice for newcomers. Anything else on your list that you would add to the discussion? We've already had?

Speaker 2:

Um , I would say conversations with leadership early on. Um, you know, I think we've talked about patent early on or in previous settings, the first 90 days, you know, what should you really look for, expect your first 90 days on a new, in a new role. And so I would think of some key questions that I would want to know from my supervisor. Get that information early on so that you set the stage. Sure . Success. So , um , thinking just in simple things like how does , how does your supervisor measure success? Cause you want to know is that going to be on dollars raised, number of meetings taken ? Um, you know, number of grants written, there could be a lot of metrics there. So knowing their expectations early on is really helpful. Um, knowing how your supervisors prefer to communicate the , it's a big, when you may, they may want over-communication cause you're a new employee and they want to make sure you're, you know , on task and getting things done. Um , or they may just simply trust you to take on the role and just run with it. But finding out that communication style so that you can work with them , um , appropriately is

Speaker 1:

the big one . Oh, sorry, go ahead. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Looking at previous , um, what's been done previously with the organization and asking, you know , what's been the biggest challenge in terms of fundraising? What's the highest priority now in terms of fundraising? It's a good idea to get those early on so that you know what you, what hurdles you have to overcome, what you have to work towards. And the lastly, who are the key players? And this really will depend on each organization, each position , um, that may be board members, they may be funders, they may be other people within the organization, but who are those key people that you really need to get to know and make a relationship with early on?

Speaker 1:

Great examples and great questions because I'm convinced so many of our, again, nonprofit peers , um, in essence, parachute into an organization and they're passionate about the cause, but they don't ask those questions early on. And , uh , quite honestly, nonprofits in general don't do a good job onboarding . Um, and I hate to pick on nonprofits, I'm guilty of that from my previous days. But uh, you're understaffed and a lot is going on. So when the newcomer arrives, you hand them a binder and tell them to go do it, whatever doing it is, and so your point being proactive early. Um, cause I hear that a lot, you know, that they , they they didn't quite understand and it's a year later when they're trying to get clarity about the exact expectations or am I allowed to invest in professional development? Um, do I understand the budget and how things, you know, dollars are spent in this organization. Those are questions , um, that are definitely worth asking. And of course, Mike, you and I have talked about at one book that we profile in our PMA library is the first 90 days by Michael Watkins. And I'm a big fan of that and recommend it to folks that are new to an organization or managers who are hiring because I think it's a two way street. Both the manager and the new employee need to have some of those topics explored just as you suggested.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Yes.

Speaker 1:

Well, maybe that's a good segue to [inaudible] the other question I'm asking all of our guests, Mike , uh , as a fan of books and resources, obviously I threw one at you that you already knew it was the first 90 days. Um, have there been any professional development books that have been particularly helpful to you or perhaps one that you recommend to others?

Speaker 2:

There are lots actually. Um , I have, I like enjoy reading and , and you know, hearing different perspectives and learning more. And , um, of course, I, I went back and received my graduate certificate in nonprofit management. Um, when I realized I was going into the field or I was in the field already. Um, I got a lot of resources , uh , from that, that I continue to use. Um, mentioned those in just a second, but, but one person that I just really enjoy hearing him speak and always get something from her content. Penelope Burke , donor centered fundraising, donor centered leadership. It's , um , fundraising from the perspective of the donor, which is really where we should all be focusing. So always get some takeaways there. And the other two that really helps me both within my , um, nonprofit certificate , um, courses, but also I've continued to use them in every role that I've been in. I think even AFP gave them a way to, to mentor in groups at one point. Um, the achieving excellence in fundraising, which I believe is Hank Rosso is just great resource

Speaker 1:

that covers really each aspect of fundraising, whether it's capital campaigns, marketing events, just gets into really each topic. Um, ethics is in there. So Mike , that's kind of one of the classic texts I think of our fundraising lace .

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And like I said, I've been able to use it as a resource in nearly every setting I've been in. And to take that kind of a step further. Uh , there's the Jaci bass handbook for , uh , nonprofit leadership and management. And that one really doesn't just focus on fundraising. It's really all aspects of programming and , and budgeting and finances. And so if you're [inaudible] looking to grow in your career and maybe being more administrative or more senior level role, that really gives you a greater lens to see all those different angles from

Speaker 1:

Mike has a great resources. We'll absolutely link to them in our show notes from this episode. And of course you are a great advocate for AFP, so we'll have to make sure that link is clear. For those that aren't familiar with it or entertaining the nonprofit field, AFP certainly should be on their list. Um, uh, any final words of wisdom, Mike, as we close this episode? Did again, I hope , uh, well I know this will be valuable for someone new to the field and want to make sure we've captured everything that was on, on your list so to speak.

Speaker 2:

Sure. I think saying maybe one thing we didn't bring up is kind of developing a learning plan. Um, came up with your own professional development plan. Uh , we do this in our jobs as fundraisers. We make a development plan or a fundraising plan each year. And I think you should really intentionally do that for yourself as well. Um, actually one of my courses for my nonprofit certificate, it was a fundraising course and , and the instructor who what happened but also be a mentor and they FP , uh , she required us to write a fundraising plan for, for an organization, but also to write a fundraising plan for our charitable giving from the perspective of if we're going to work for charities, then we should also be giving back to these charities and nonprofit organizations. And then lastly , uh, as professional development plan for ourselves, you know, what are we going to do to expand our knowledge and expand our career? And you may not know all those milestones yet. You may not know exactly where you want to go, but to, to come up with that plan and, and really know where you want to go. So knowing the ins and outs of fundraising and then learning the ins and outs of the fundraising nonprofit industry. But then getting to know the programs and services that you work with and, and what you need to do to take you to the next level in your career. I think kinda outlining that plan is, can be very helpful in moving your career forward.

Speaker 1:

That's a fantastic point, Mike and I, you're right, it is ironic. I think sometimes that we see a lot of our uh , professional colleagues in the nonprofit will spend a lot of time on planning with the organization, but much less so on themselves. And quite honestly the organization needs you to get better. And I think there's no better way than what you just described. An intentional professional development plan, a career planning module. And of course that's what we talk a lot about, you know, on the path to nonprofit leadership as the title of this podcast implies. So Mike, thanks very much for your time and conversation and really appreciate you being part of this today. Sure. Thanks for having me. I appreciate being here. All right, take care. Thanks once again for listening in to your path to nonprofit leadership. Enjoyed this conversation with Mike a lot and I hope you'll check out the show notes associated with this episode is you've got a number of good books to read as well as other resources that can help you if you're in the early stage or frankly further along the path and you're trying to get better and move closer to leadership opportunities. As always, if you enjoyed this episode, I hope you'll share it with someone else that may also be on the path and consider subscribing to this podcast and also your thoughts around a review would also be appreciated as it helps us get the word out and share these messages to the nonprofit community. Thanks again for listening. Hope you will join us next time on the path.