Recently, we shared on Facebook and our other social media about a free white paper of ours called, “Six Secrets to Becoming an Extraordinary Major Gift Officer.” One of the six secrets is that if you are to become an extraordinary major gift officer, you need to understand that it’s not a typical 9 to 5 job.
Well, you’d have thought we were callous, cold-hearted people by some of the responses to that particular secret.
I was bewildered because we absolutely do not advocate that someone should be working 50-60+ hours every week, getting overly stressed and burned out. But the truth is, there are times as a major gift officer where your work falls outside a typical 9 to 5 job.
As a frontline fundraiser who works directly with donors (who are often busy and have many demands on their schedules), you must be able to accommodate their schedules. They may need to meet you for breakfast at 7am. Or they may be attending an event that your organization is sponsoring, and it goes until 9pm. And sometimes a donor only has time to meet with you on a Saturday afternoon.
Would you say to a donor that you’ve been cultivating and hoping to get a face-to-face meeting with: “Sorry, I can’t meet at 7am. My work doesn’t start until 9am so I’d have to meet you then?” Ah, no, not if you wanted to ever meet that donor again.
Of course, we would never condone a donor who would become abusive or overly demanding of your time. It is important to have firm, healthy boundaries with your donors to maintain a good work balance. Nor would we advocate that you just suck it up and just work extra hours each week.
But there will be times as a frontline fundraiser that you WILL have to go in early or stay late, and there will be some weeks you do work long hours. That is just the reality of this work.
However, that means that if you do have an early coffee meeting, then it’s reasonable, if you have no further meetings, to go home early that day, or take off early on a Friday afternoon.
Unlike a regular desk job where you are expected to be in your office chair at a certain time and the culture is one where everyone leaves at 5pm on the dot, this job, being a frontline fundraiser, should never have that kind of standard.
That’s because if you’re good at this work, you should be out connecting with your donors and spending more time out of the office than at your desk.
Being a frontline fundraiser is a tough, demanding job. It’s a job that will never be just 9 to 5. Nor will it be a job that is steady at 40 hours per week. But it should be a job that allows you much more freedom to get out of the office and have flexibility with your schedule, so you can meet with donors at times that work best for them and maintain a healthy environment for yourself.
And it’s fine if you don’t like that kind of schedule! That just means this work is probably not your calling, and that’s important to know.
Now, because your manager will expect you to work some odd or long hours from time to time, your manager also needs to create flexibility around the hours you work and where you perform your work. And this is what I’m going to address in part 2 of this series.