I’m sure it’s hard for you all to imagine but I was actually unemployed at one point. I know, I know…How IS it that someone with my undeniable talent and charm could get laid off even when the economy WAS leaving marks swirling around in the toilet bowl? Well half of it, I’m sure, was that often development people are the first to go and the other half? Let’s just say that the Executive Director and I weren’t exactly “close”.
Now, as many of you know you wear many hats when you work in Non-Profit Land and you typically acquire jobs that you didn’t even know existed. Not only are you soliciting gifts and keeping your donors happy but you plan special events, manage the database, run development meetings (and take notes while you’re doing it), manage your board members, create the development plan and annual report, write newsletters and grants, create brochures, execute your social media campaign, manage interns, volunteers and other development staff and in my case – babysit your 47-year old Executive Director. All while keeping a smile on your face and a pep in your step under many intersecting deadlines and constant budget constraints. I think I may have a heart attack just writing about it.
So you would think that with all of those skills I acquired that I would have been able to find a job fairly easily, right? Yeah, not so much. I had decided that I was no longer going to seek out jobs in the non-profit industry, after my last experience, and I turned my focus entirely towards marketing, writing and editing. The response I received over and over again from employers was that “development for non-profits” encompassed too many jobs for me to just focus on one. Therefore, I was not a specialist in any.
Which leads me to the discussion that every single person I spoke to during that time was a complete idiot. Okay, that’s not really the discussion, albeit a fact. It occurred to me during that period in my life that it’s possible that people just don’t understand what development encompasses. Telling a development person that they don’t have enough “project management” experience when they’ve planned events for over 500 people, three months away from the event date and on the same day as another major event from a competing non-profit because their board members are too stupid to realize how much work actually goes in to planning an event that big, is downright offensive.
I know development people in the non-profit arena who could run circles around a few CEO’s of major corporations. To say that they’re not specialists of anything is an ignorant statement. It’s actually quite amazing what one person can accomplish in a day and I know this to be true because I used to do it. Granted I’ve cut my life expectancy in half and my brain probably resembles a block of Swiss cheese but damned if I don’t know how to accomplish pretty much anything. And in a timely fashion, I might add.
So here’s to you, development people! Especially those of you with special events this weekend because we all know by the end of it that you’re going to want to kill everyone. Including yourself. But try to refrain from doing that since I’m going to need final number first thing on Monday moring. Talk to you then. 🙂