I have been asked several times “Why non-profit development? Why would you actually want to work in development?” Through various discussions and job interviews, it seems like a lot of non-profit folks fall into development by accident and/or non-willingly. No one wants to be the one who is begging for operational funding.
For me, working in development and writing is less about begging, and more about story telling. Obviously the need to ask for money is crucial to non-profit development, but I find joy in how you frame the ask. How we craft the story of the mission depending on who we are talking to. What parts of the organization’s story do we emphasize and high light for a specific sponsor? For individual donors?
I live and breathe for my organization. I love coming up with creative ways to share the story of who we are and our mission to as many different groups of people. Framing the money beg part in a story-telling sense has helped reduce my anxiety when I have to talk to people. The idea of blatantly asking for money is terrifying; the chance to spread my mission and story to more people is energizing and exciting.
My organization’s story is a part of who I am. Sharing what we do comes as natural to me as blinking. If I can craft our mission and programs in such a way that benefits my non-profit financially, I know I am making what we do more accessible and understandable to more people.
It’s one thing to run an organization with a great mission. It’s another thing to get funders, volunteers, and the general public on board with your organization. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to constantly have our hand out for funds when we feel like we are taking time away from programming. However, having to ask for money constantly challenges the quality of our work, and also how we present it to our constituents and donors. We shouldn’t be numbers driven, but story driven. Telling stories allows us to humanize our work and constituents, and it makes us work to be creative in our outreach and grant writing.
Non-profit development makes us better at what we do and helps us spread the message of what we do to the masses. It might not perceived as pretty or glamorous, but in my opinion it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of working in the non-profit sector.