As new generations of leaders join the nonprofit leadership ranks, they might find themselves at a loss for how to navigate their way, just through the sector itself but also from low or entry-level positions to those at the top.
Dzenan Berberovic of the University of South Dakota Foundation, Paul Rann of the Huron Medical Center Foundation and Brandy Moriah Wicker of the Dallas Black Dance Theatre talked about mobility during the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ international conference. They said that at age 30, nonprofit professionals have as much as eight to 10 years of fundraising experience but are often passed over for higher positions because many nonprofits hire directors from the corporate world.
They said that young professionals could help themselves move through the ranks by taking the following steps:
- Assess. Being ready: Go above and beyond. Be a go-to person. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Standing out: Do things without being asked. Add solutions, don’t just point out problems. Look the part.
- Presentation: Manners and etiquette. Posture. Professional dress. Confidence. Knowledge of the world.
- Standards: Adhere to a higher standard than others.
Step 2: Initiate.
- Two key questions: Are there leadership positions/promotion opportunities available now or in the future? Is this the dream organization?
- Choosing a new nonprofit: Turnover/retention. Age and experience of current leadership. Focus of job descriptions. Performance culture.
- Job post qualifications: Hiring process. Worth applying?
Step 3: Execute.