Category Archives: 10 Tips

10 Tips: Surviving Micromanagement

Graph of Autonomy, Dignity, Mutiny

Thanks to thisisindexed.com for this graph. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I’m not sure if it’s my youth (full disclosure: I’m not really that young) or my personality that adores autonomy and cringes at the concept, and the idea, of micromanagement. In the past seven years, I have been proud to watch the board of our organization grow from a lopsided grassroots board to one who is gradually taking the governance reins and is making great strides.

But as we all know, utopia is a myth, and I have talked to more than one colleague who has at least one person that is making their life relatively sour due to a constant hawkish attention to the tasks that are supposed to be trusted to that person. Sometimes this attention persists, even in light of reassurance from their peers that the aforementioned person is doing the right thing for the organization.

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10 Tips: Dress for Development Success

yellow jacket polka dot skirt

Classy and stylish work outfit. Thanks to thimble be quick for the image. Check out the rest of the outfits on their page (sorry guys, just ladies on this one).

I can remember distinctly the handful of epiphanies that I’ve had in my career that have made a true difference in the way that I do my work and flex my development muscles. At the risk of sounding shallow, one of those was definitely the idea that what you wear, and how you carry yourself, can make you instantly seem more competent and better equipped for success.

People, whether we like it or not, base a lot of their impressions of us on first impressions and appearances. Though it may not actually be the case, donors and colleagues look at a well-put-together development professional as more competent and more talented than their less stylish counterparts. (And yes, I’ve known a lot of super-lazy dandies that don’t fit this description, but, as the proverb says, perception is reality.)

For the arts professionals who read this blog, we’re fortunate in the sense that we have more freedom to assert our personal style in a professional environment than, say, our human services or political counterparts. Our orgs are creative by nature, and creativity is often encouraged amongst staff. Our own employee dress code (which I crafted, not completely disharmoniously, from that of a hair salon), states “All dress will project an image of fashion, professionalism and good taste.” (Today, for example, I am wearing a grey 3/4-sleeve jacket with a white button-down shirt, a long marcasite pendant necklace, and a grey knit muted leopard-print skirt with nude hose and patent snakeskin pumps. Not too over-the-top, but not too conservative either.)

You don’t need to pay a personal stylist or personal shopper to give you advice (though there are many reasonably priced ones out there). Much of what you need to know you can learn from books and websites. All it takes is practice, and a few friends or colleagues that will be honest with you. Enlist their help, and explain what you want to accomplish.

I could write about this topic all day (interview dress, the 10-point system, business casual, etc.), but instead I thought I would offer 10 Tips (and Links) to help you get started on your own professional-dressing odyssey. I’ve tried to provide a mix of guy, girl and unisex tips, but feel free to add your own in the comments section!

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10 Tips: Spring Cleaning for the Development Office

Clean all the development things

Thanks, of course, to the founder of this meme feast, Hyperbole and a Half.

I love Spring. Aside from the fact that New York Winters last longer than the other seasons f(or at least it seems that way), Spring gives us an excuse for a fresh start. It also gives us a fab impetus for cleaning up our offices, both literally and figuratively. Here are 10 ideas for Spring Cleaning, Development Style:

  1. Review your donor management software, and eliminate and merge any duplicates that you find.
  2. Freshen up your conventional donor thank-you ideas. Usually send a letter? Send a picture postcard instead, or make a phone call. Make a list of new ideas that you can use to say thank-you.
  3. If you’re fortunate enough to work with a staff, hold a meeting with them to talk about new initiatives for the development department.
  4. Sort and weed out your stacks of fundraising periodicals. Tired of paper pile-ups? Many development publications, including FundRaising Success, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy, are available in digital editions.
  5. Review your donor files and clean out any outdated materials or information that is no longer useful.
  6. Assess what is working and what isn’t with your current systems. Are there training modules you could order from your software providers, or could you lay to rest a “fundraising program” that isn’t cutting the muster and hasn’t been for years? The best systems and events are those that help you reach your goals.
  7. Add a few new decorative items to your office space. Photos of family and friends, pieces of artwork that you like, or motivational quotes are all good additions. If you ask nicely, you might even get permission to paint your office or get a new area rug or office chair.
  8. Take a day to physically clean your space if you don’t do it regularly. Studies have shown that keyboards, desks and phones can be some of the germiest spaces in your office!
  9. How is your filing system working for you? Do you avoid filing items because you dread losing them? An ideal filing system should enable you to file something in less than 30 seconds and retrieve it in less than a minute. There are lots of tips out there for building a great filing system. This tip is time-intensive, but very worth it in the long run.
  10. Spring-clean your self-talk. Feeling discouraged over the grey expanse of winter? Give yourself a pep talk. You’re doing good work for a good cause. Your passion inspires others, and the great part is that you can continue to improve if you choose to!

Do you have any “spring cleaning” development tips?

10 Tips: LinkedIn Groups for Development Professionals

i-love-linkedinIn the world of social media, LinkedIn may not be the first network that comes to mind. If you haven’t yet signed up, and value your work as a professional, it may be worth a look. LinkedIn is populated with a wide range of workers and job seekers, rookies and veterans, men and women who are seriously interested in furthering their careers and making connections.

My own LinkedIn story is probably much like that of many users. I am considered a bit of an “early adopter” by my friends, and when I heard of the network in my first year in development, I signed up. I found my mentor there (Gary, who lives in Arizona and was a huge help while I was starting out), and I joined some discussion groups and made connections with my connections’ connections. As you can expect, it didn’t take long for all those connections to add up!

In my travels on LinkedIn, I have run across several discussion groups that may be helpful to those of you who work in, or are interested in, the nonprofit development industry. Though some are more specific, many are general spaces where an individual can start a conversation about the topic of their choice. Here they are, in no particular order.

Click here for the full list.