Greetings from the world of Development. Victor here. Last night as I drifted off to sleep in my room (on top of the covers, fully dressed, lights on, mind you) I started to think about my job. Of course, my knee-jerk reaction to this theme invading my mind is, “Stop, go to sleep! Worry about this tomorrow when you HAVE TO!” But of course, sometimes the mind is a wandering child, and there you are, the parent without one of those creepy and unsettling leashes keeping it within your control. Anyway, as my mind went to grants, development, schedules, and the like, I suddenly drew the oddest parallel. At this point in my life, my main source of anxiety and the place where most of my pressure and stress comes from is very reminiscent of another time in my life some six years ago. This feeling is familiar….what is it? Oh wait, I know what it is….applying to college.
When I was a senior in high school, there was that very masochistic period of slaving over applications and essays, sending them out into the academic ether, and just praying for some kind of validation for all of my hard work. In 2009, I feel that way every day. Applying to grants sways to a very similar rhythm. Here I am, stretching my mind to its inventive and pragmatic limits in hopes of some benevolent leviathan of a funder will see my application and efforts sparkle through a gray and dismal sea of identical proposals. He will reach down, extend his open-palmed hand, and lift me up into the tranquility and safety of monetary support. The yes’s, fantastic and vindicating as they are, are far less frequent than their inevitable and ubiquitous alternative. Receiving a declination from a potential funder can be summed up in this way: I walk into the office, a letter on my desk. It reads: “Sorry, Victor. We’re not interested. Try again next year. Love, XYZ Potential Funder.”
Of course, once the reactionary rage subsides, my sensible side can’t really begrudge this organization. As special as each worthy nonprofit is, even with all of its philanthropic programs and endeavors, all lined up next to each other, we tend to blend and fade. It is the nature of this job to expect your failures to outnumber your successes. Then the only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and grow (Cue sentimental background music). It’s true, folks. In this racket, I have to learn to speak a funder’s language, know their priorities, brown-nose the (pun intended) crap out of them. We development folks are chameleons. No matter how we change our stripes to fit in, our guts and goals remain the same. Word of the day kids: Adaptation.