What's Left on Your "To Do" List?

| by Bert Armstrong

At the end of your day, what items are at the bottom of your stack of things left to do?

Two things on the bottom of my stack:  1) ANYTHING to do with planning the logistics of an event.  2) Editing a report, grant, case statement, or even a blog.  It’s just hard for me to get motivated to tackle these details.

You can call me anytime to sit down and strategize with you about your capital campaign, interview one of your major donors to discuss their interest in your organization, or help develop a profile of your organization’s next executive director.  I will meet you wherever and whenever you’d like, and will even buy the coffee!  Creating strategic solutions to tough problems is a thought-provoking activity I enjoy.

On the flip side, please, please don’t put me in charge of scheduling and putting the packets together for your next meeting, reserving the banquet hall and the band for the big gala, or to edit the foundation grant your organization needs to get in the mail tomorrow.  These are all important tasks and as your consultant, I promise I will get them done right and on time…but I can’t promise I’m going to enjoy doing it.

Recently I talked with an executive director who was frustrated that her newly hired development professional was spending most of her time planning fundraising events, yet spending little time doing what the executive director wanted most from her chief development officer – visiting with the major donors and sponsors, meeting prospective supporters and sharing the story of the charity’s wonderful mission.  When I asked about the fundraiser’s background, I learned that her career was spent in marketing and event planning.   She was smart, personable and presented herself well, but had no experience with major gifts and very little direct fundraising experience.

People will spend their time and energy on the things they are good at and enjoy most.  When hiring for mission critical positions in your organization, be sure to look beyond the basic qualifications regarding educational background, years of work experience and skills.  Make sure you are asking questions that help you understand what parts of the job energize your candidates.  You can be certain that these are the things they will spend most of their time attending to.  If their favorite parts of the job are not the most important parts of the job, proceed with caution in inviting them to join your organization.  It’s a lot easier to say no thanks to a candidate for a position than it is say a difficult goodbye to an employee.

Have you ever hired someone who couldn’t, or wouldn’t embrace the most important aspects of their position?  Join our conversation and share your stories with us.

Bert Armstrong is a co-founder and Principal with Armstrong McGuire & Associates.

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