Fundraising as a Vocation
“Viewing fundraising through the filter of vocation can provide fundraising professionals with an added layer of context and meaning to their work and bring resulting benefits to the organizations they work for and the communities they serve.”14 So begins “The Song of the River: A Study of Vocation in the Lives of Fundraisers,” by Sharilyn Hale, CFRE. This master of arts thesis “explores what fundraising professionals think about the concept of vocation and their experience of it within their work.” And despite the diversity across gender, generation, nationality, and tenure, Hale’s research shows that there is a “high level of consensus that the link between vocation and philanthropy is significant and requires professionals to consider their work within a larger philosophical framework.”15
This seems a fitting way to end a chapter on fundraising professionals—and an interesting link to leadership, the next chapter. Why and how does vocation relate to philanthropy, to fund development, and to those who work in this field? Why and how does vocation relate to leadership, no matter the profession?
Defining the purpose of her thesis research, Hale says:
Numerous leaders in the philanthropic sector have challenged fundraising professionals to be more than mere fundraising technicians. These leaders suggest there should be a corresponding alignment of personal values, commitment, passions, and vision for the change we would like to see in the world. This challenge ...