long time ago, I wrote asking for
your advice on a career issue dealing with resignation.
wanted to let you know, in postscript, how it went. I left my future
replacement a long, incredibly readable, interesting analysis of what
my job duties were and how they could be improved. I left the
Executive Director a wrap-up of my work on the multi-year giving
program that faltered under my supervisor’s watch, my efforts to fix
it, and my suggestions for revamping the next one. I identified why
our direct mail campaign failed (hello, no reply slip) and suggested
ways to create measurable results on the next one. I suggested, in
much kinder words, that the reason we couldn’t track our revenue
consistently is because my supervisor kept pressuring me to reclass
it. I outlined future plans that never came into fruition and what
could be done to start them up. My "papers" upon leaving were more in
order than the president’s.
They didn’t hire a new person for almost two months after I
left, even though I gave them a month’s notice. No one wanted my job;
it paid too little and had too many responsibilities for the pay
scale. Frankly, if I were looking for work now, there’s no way I would
take it – it’s akin to slavery. They finally hired someone on who
would be willing to work for pennies, but I’ve heard from the "inside"
that she’s not too bright and won’t last. They aren’t offering enough
money or resources to hire someone effective, and they’re shooting
themselves in the foot. Hiring someone competent may be more money,
but it will have greater returns. Most nonprofits have figured this
I cry inside when I think about it all. When I donate money
to them this holiday season, I will earmark it for the one program they
offer that I have faith in – I would never want my money going towards
my old supervisor’s salary, or anything of that nature, and I certainly
wouldn’t want it spent on their inefficient fundraising. It breaks my
But there is always a silver lining. My experiences at that
place, coupled with the amazing work I have found in my new workplace,
have inspired me to go back to school. I am starting an M.S. program
in Nonprofit Management, and I am ready to be a leader.
Thank you for your blog and your advice. I value it immensely.
Signed, Who’s Crying Now?
Yours is an incredibly tactful and gentle way of saying the advice
you received was completely useless–you did everything the
Nonprofiteer suggested and it availed naught. So her little feelings
won’t be hurt if you treat the following idea with the kindly disdain
applied to children’s recipes for cold fusion:
When you send your annual contribution, might it be worthwhile to
send it to the Board president with a quick summary of the history
you’ve outlined here? Now that you’re no longer a staff member, the
proscriptions against ex parte contact between staff and Board no
longer apply, and agencies should (whether or not they do) want to hear
from donors. Especially rare is a donor like you–one who really knows
what’s going on in the agency and isn’t afflicted with Overhead
Blindness, i.e. the misguided notion that every dollar spent is a
So perhaps a note suggesting that the agency is in fact engaging in a false economy by hiring a junior fundraiser to handle a major fundraising challenge wouldn’t be out of line. I understand your desire not to have your own hard-earned money go to pay an incompetent to do something stupid; but surely you likewise understand that whatever strings you put on your money, it all goes into the same pot and is stirred by the same chefs. So it’s worth your time, if you are going to continue to support the agency, to try to assure (stretching the metaphor til it screams!) that there aren’t rats in the kitchen.
Regardless, I’m delighted the whole thing hasn’t caused you to leave the sector. As someone much wiser than the Nonprofiteer long ago observed, that which does not kill us makes us strong.