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The Tender Trap

Have you ever felt a time during the day when you’re having fun, time flies and you can’t believe you’re actually being compensated for the fun you’re having? Welcome to what some call their “sweet spot.” I, on the other hand, call it the tender trap. I call it a trap because I encounter a lot of development professionals who try very hard to position themselves so that all they have to do is stay within their comfort zone. Don’t like to work on analysis? Let someone else do that. Don’t like to to do acquisition? Let John in the other office handle that.

The problem is when you position yourself inside your sweet spot, whatever it may be, you also pigeonhole yourself and how you’re perceived. That’s a trap you don’t want to fall into because it limits your ability to advance within your nonprofit. You need to have a good knowledge of as many aspects of fundraising as possible. In baseball they rate prospects based on their tools. If a scout says, “He’s a 5-tool player,” he means he can (1) hit for power, (2) hit for average, (3) run well, (4) field well, and (5) throw well. Those players are coveted because of their talent.

It seems to me that the same could be said for development professionals. What’s in your toolbox?

Are you able to write a good fundraising letter?

Do you know the difference between a donor-centric and an organization-centric letter?

Do you understand the importance of donor loyalty?

Can you look at an analysis sheet and make sound judgements as to how to proceed?

Are you comfortable talking with volunteers, board members, donors?

Is it possible to avoid doing what you don’t like or are uncomfortable doing? Maybe. But as a long-term career strategy it’s extremely limiting.

Resolve today to diversify your knowledge base and you’ll be more versatile and more valued for your ability to contribute to the team.

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