Thursday, March 15, 2007

My Life Raising Funds

Okay, so I'm bored. Powerfully bored. I love the people I work with, I love having a mission we succeed at year after year, I'm decently compensated and have fantastic benefits. I like wearing jeans and sweaters to work. I like that I'm comfortable sitting next to any one of more than 50 staff members and having a conversation about common values and interests. I love knowing that people's lives will be profoundly impacted by what I do.

The difficulty is the boredom. Here's the bulk of the work I have to do: gather annual reports. Look up each individual on the list of donors in the annual reports on Sort through pages of names looking for the right one. Enter name, address, telephone information into fundraising database.

There are a number of people in the world who would kill for this job. After several hours of this activity, I'm ready to jump out my office window. Meetings with my boss are spent talking about how to extract money from people with obscene amounts of it. He thinks about this ALL. THE. TIME. Every waking hour. Even in his "leisure" time. If he's not thinking about that, he's thinking about what he'd do if he had a certain amount of money. "It's a fun thing to do when you're running," he told me yesterday. "Think about what you'd do with $5 million dollars. It's easy enough to spend $5 million, but then try to go up from there. These CEOs make hundreds of millions of dollars per year. That's what's so great about fundraising - you get to figure out how to get them to give it to you so you can put it to good use." I believe we put money to good use. I also believe that it is nauseating that some people make hundreds of millions of dollars per year while other people wonder where they'll sleep tonight, or how they'll feed their children. That some people operate on survival instinct only, and do not have the opportunity to evaluate a financial plan, or consider higher education, or heat their homes at night. It's difficult for me to disguise my contempt for these individuals. I shift uncomfortably in my chair when I meet with my boss, trying to seem interested when what I feel is fury.

I've spoken to a number of people about this, but have not yet spoken to my boss about it. The bottom line is that I need more stimulating work to do. Data entry is not for someone with six years of professional experience. I'm not being offered any opportunities for professional growth. The bigger question - the one that I think makes this such a difficult discussion for me - is whether or not I just made a misstep in choosing fundraising as an occupation, and therefore need to leave this organization. The thought of that makes me terribly sad, but the longer this goes on, the more I know the answers.

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