A couple of months ago, following a series of interviews, I was offered a senior fundraising position with another charity, which I accepted. After 17 years at global seafarers’ charity, Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea), finishing as Director of Development, I needed to plan my exit. As well as ensuring continuity for the charity, I wanted to ensure the change for colleagues, with whom I spent a good proportion of my working life was as professional and comfortable as possible.
Whilst an online search revealed an abundance of material for senior executives and fundraisers for their first 100 days in a new role there was next to nothing about how to successfully manage the last 100 days. The last 100 days seems to be a particularly critical period, as it is likely to be the period you are most remembered for by your current employer, but also any external activity or media engagement may be watched with interest by your new employer. Therefore, an exit plan for the last 100 days is vital.
Whilst trying to keep the day job going, preparing mentally for the change and preparing my handover notes, here is my 10-point plan for the last 100 days as a senior fundraiser.
1. Give notice to your line manager in writing
But only once you’ve had a job offer and contract in writing from your new employer. Make the letter positive, noting your willingness to help the new incumbent as your new commitments allow.
2. Inform close colleagues first, before any charity wide announcement
Be ready for some concern for the future in your team, especially if you’ve been a fixture for some years. Good planning will allay some of these concerns.
3. Document your roles processes and close online work to ensure cyber security
Ideally during your tenure, you will have begun to build a ‘bible’ of fundraising processes. It’s much easier and more comprehensive to do this as you work than to try and write this in your last 100 days. Beginning to shut online accounts or transferring them to your new employer reduces risk of identity theft or other cyber-crime.
4. Undertake a review of your department
Having held a senior role in the organisation for a number of years, you will a unique insight into the organisations, and also what you would recommend to change or review further.
This needn’t be a root and branch review, but gives your successor somewhere to start and captures something of your experience. Walking into a senior role without any background notes is not a good indicator of the previous incumbent.
SEE ALSO: 5 tips for great fundraising handover notes by John Green (7 February 2020)
5. Mind the ‘recruitment’ gap
Recruitment for your role maybe tardy; trustees may need to have input, additional budget may need to be approved, whatever the reason there may not be any overlap with your successor. Either request an ‘interim’ for the team you leave, or document tasks you normally lead on and designate task leads until your successor is appointed.
6. Inform key supporters of your departure in a personalised way
As a fundraiser, building personal relationships with major donors, suppliers, media contacts and other stakeholders is key to your success. You’ve been careful to nurture these relationships and ensure they feel part of the DNA of the charity. To end these with a perfunctory email risks to undermines their engagement. Better to phone, meet or send a card to these key contacts, it will be appreciated.
7. Update LinkedIn recommendations for key contacts
These days, like it or not Linkedin is your online CV, its not quite the window to your soul, but a well curated profile, is important as you embark on a new role. It is likely to be the first place new colleagues will go to get a sense of who you are. As well as ensuring your profile is in good shape, now is the time to give recommendations and endorsements to colleagues and contacts who have made your work enjoyable and more successful. They will be likely to reciprocate and more importantly they’ll appreciate it.
8. Delete unnecessary documents
Ideally, you’ll be doing this as you go along, but sometimes when deadlines are looming and there are opportunities to be seized, routine administration is put on the back burner.
Leaving clear files for your successor will be greatly appreciated.
9. Holiday and the P45
You may hope that the last 100 days will be a gentle coast to the finish, unfortunately, this won’t be the case. As well as keeping the day job going, you’ll be writing handover notes, interim plans and possibly assisting with recruitment of your successor. That said, if you’ve annual leave to take, take it, in this busy period you’ll need some ‘down time’. Whilst your new employer may want you to start ‘yesterday’, building in a week of holiday between jobs is a good idea. At a senior level, most fundraisers never completely detach during holidays, so some time out between jobs, where you’ve no responsibility to ‘look in’, is a chance to
recharge and focus for the next challenge.
10. Finish strong and remember to say thank you
As the final day gets nearer, there will be some tasks you’ll have to leave to your successor. However, do look for some great charity news to finish with.
It’s difficult to plan for a significant gift to come in in this period, but some media exposure commenting on national news relevant to your sector can create a feel-good buzz coinciding with your departure. I did this on BBC News during the Iranian tanker seizure this summer:
Or you can write a letter to a newspaper’s letters page; the FT published one of mine earlier this year,
Finally, in the last days, find some special way to appreciate your close colleagues, you’ve not only worked with them, but shared years of life, they’ll remember you for making that effort and lastly that closing email to everyone with forwarding details will hopefully make your last 100 days professional and warmly remembered by the charity in which you invested so much of your life.
Director of Development
Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea)
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