Following up on - Are You What You Wear? Richard Thompson Ford
June may seem like an odd month to write about what we wear to work. But as we move into a new phase of the pandemic, more of us return to the office, and things settle into a new routine, the question of what to wear comes up. Now I am a middle-aged African American man working in a major metropolis, so I can only talk about this from my particular perspective.
The New Yorker Magazine recently posted an interesting podcast on the subject that had a good deal to say about why we wear what we wear to work - https://tinyurl.com/kdav7ya9. I highly recommend you listen to it.
Personally, I wear ties and sometimes suits. I like the convenience of reaching into the closet, pulling out a white shirt and pair of pants (or a suit), and grabbing a tie. It is just easy. Now I am also a big believer in having a "look." A way people see your outward self that you define.
Now I will freely admit that being from the south being "dressed" is cultural with me as well. When I was growing up, people just dressed up more than they do now. I also grew up feeling that as a person of color, I had to be cleaner, smarter, and more polite to truly achieve.
Then I decided to be a fundraiser. When I started, there were not that many people of color who were in the field. I was lucky enough to work for two experienced fundraisers of color early in my career. I learned a great deal from them about raising money and maneuvering my way through the society of those supporting the non-profits for which I was working.
Now I am an experienced fundraiser with over 25 years of working for all kinds of non-profits. I manage staff, work with the Board, help lead the organization, Do my ties and suits help? Well, I don't know for sure. I know I want people to be comfortable handing me a check or with my help in creating a planned gift. But what I can't be "visually" is a different person for everyone. I have to be the person I am. The one who is comfortable in his skin - as much as anyone ever is - who understands the dynamic between his position as a fundraiser and the people he works with to support the organization's work.
At the end of the day, I wear a tie and a suit sometimes because I like it. I look good wearing it, and I guess I hope people feel comfortable with me as I do my job.
So you can do it all. Really?
Is doing it all when short-staffed a good thing? So many times, we find ourselves short-staffed, Someone leaves, we add a new area, or there is a budget cut. As hard as it is to release a staff person, it can be even harder to get the staff position back when the time comes. If you are an overachiever and your remaining team members have "made: things happen without the position, it is even more complicated. The powers that be can feel like, "why should we add staff when things are happening anyway.
I always try to point out the things that aren't happening. If the head of the department is dealing with the minutia of an event, then who is stewarding the donors as they come in, who is coaxing prospects into the fold. Those are just some of the things concerning the event. What about all of the non-event projects. What about properly managing the staff. Antone with reports knows that properly working with a team takes time and patience. Both of which are in short supply when you are short-staffed.
So what can you do? First, go ahead and write up the job description for the position you need to fill. Then, do some research and figure out what the salary range ought to be. Be realistic. If you have regular meetings with your CEO or ED, bite the bullet and give them the job description. Make it clear you are not looking to fill it immediately, but the time is coming. I would also make it clear to my board committee that you are short-staffed and that the time is coining when you will need an additional staff person.
I would not let the important things drop or suffer, but I would keep track of the projects and outreach that simply isn't happening because of time. The next move would be to plan a budget with this staff person to begin the budgeting process for the next year. Be sure to show an increase in income because of the person and the time freed up for you to use.
This process could take some time, but the position will happen organically. The key is to show how you can be more productive, and the organization will re-coup the investment in the added staff person.
It Occurs To Me
I am thinking a lot about trauma. We hear about trauma training at our organizations, but what about in our jobs. Fundraising is a career that is filled with trauma-creating practices. We also have to think about the life trauma we bring to the job. Look out for several articles and possibly a session at a fundraising conference soon.
Please leave a comment, thoughtfully.