Venus and the Cat

The tale goes of a cat that fell in love with a handsome man and begged the goddess Venus to change her into a woman. Venus concurred and immediately turned the cat into a beautiful woman. The young man fell in love and soon they were married. Some time later Venus was curious as to whether the cat was true to her new form and released a mouse near her. Forgetting everything the woman jumped up and shot after the mouse. Disheartened, Venus changed her back into a cat.
What can we learn from this? Phrases such as ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ comes to mind and this could particularly apply to recruitment. For example, in the interview a candidate may convince you that, although they have been using an events-based approach for their major donor work in the past, they are now willing to change to a more philanthropic approach.
However it is important to bear in mind that if someone is in a groove of doing things a specific way, it can be hard for them to change from that path to a different one. They may start out with good intentions but could swiftly return to the old more comfortable methods. I am not saying it is impossible, some have achieved it well and embraced new ways of doing things, but it may take a lot of organisational time. It just makes your job a lot harder to train them out of that groove. In the interview it becomes so important to tease out the candidate’s willingness and aptitude for change if it is indeed needed.
Alternatively, sometimes people can convince you that they have the skills required for the job and after some time it becomes clear that the words spoken at interview are not backed up by the required skills. So again interviewer beware. Adding candidate exercises during the interview can help guide you but be careful not to make them too easy! I have known candidates pass the exercises with flying colours but still not demonstrate the necessary skills once employed.
Just to balance this, we can always learn from new ways of looking at our processes. I am all in favour of constantly improving the way we do things, this definitely makes for a dynamic team.
It certainly applies to fundraising generally. We always need to be looking forward, adapting, learning from others and improving. It is really helpful to benchmark your organisation against other similar organisations. Are you performing as well? Organisations such as can achieve this for you for a moderate sum. What are your experiences?

Ruth is the principal and founder of Ascent Philanthropy, author of two books and passionate about helping non-profits with their major gift programmes by offering advice for introducing a new major gift programme or enhancing the productivity of the philanthropy team

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