by Barbara Barron | Posted November 8th, 2023 | Subscribe to this newsletter
Having a niche is both cool and challenging. Mine happens to be independent school advancement. I don’t work with other non-profits. Just schools. Very defined.
But it is a small world.
When I decided to begin a consulting practice almost 7 years ago, the answer to the question of how to “market” my services was through my writing. I am a published author of 4 books — including a perennial best seller. I like to write and most days, it comes fairly easily to me.
The discipline of publishing twice a month keeps me sharp and has resulted in a pretty substantial library of articles. Some of which I suspect you’ve never read. Here is a complete listing of them all.
I’m proud of that trove of articles, and am delighted on a regular basis to hear that a piece was especially timely and helpful. It’s always special to see when one of you good readers has forwarded an article to dozens of people. Or when one goes wide in social!
But, at the end of the day, the prize for me is when something I share or suggest resonates and works. My goal remains today what it was at the start: to be helpful.
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So maybe its because we’re headed toward Thanksgiving that I am feeling especially grateful for my life and family, my little business and my terrific clients. It’s also important for me to be clear that all the tips, advice, insight, and best practices I write about and use with my clients didn’t originate with me.
The truth is this: I am the beneficiary of the wisdom and experience I’ve gained from many smart and dedicated advancement professionals along the way. A couple of early mentors and school leaders took a chance on me at the start of my career. I’ve worked with smart, funny, and thought-leading professionals who taught me some best practices. People I trust have encouraged me to take risks to become a successful fundraiser. I’ve led a couple of high functioning, soulful, dedicated teams who believed in my leadership and therefore made me a better leader. And I routinely benefit from participating in a rich and generous association with other school advancement professionals.
It’s a constant learning curve.
The sum of all those rewarding experiences, as well as the failures and disappointments along the way, combine to give me a view that I am privileged to share. This is a hard profession. The pressure is high even when the pay is low. The hours and expectations feel relentless and only ever seem to go up. Often the results we seek are not truly in our hands to manifest.
And yet we press on because the rewards are really sweet: securing support for organizations that are vital and doing the beautiful work that independent schools do. I believe it is all worth it. But every person doing this work could use support. Every person doing this work benefits from fresh ideas, from time to time. And, most important of all, every person doing this work can use a thought partner who gets it and who brings a sense of optimism and a can-do attitude.
I strive to be that person.
So, enjoy the articles. Thank you for reading and sharing them. And, as always, send me ideas for topics you’d like to read about.
Thanks for all you’re doing. Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.
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BARBARA BARRON is one of the most respected and highly sought-after independent advancement professionals in the country, having worked with dozens of schools in every corner of the United States.
She has raised over $20 million for schools where she served as the Director of Development. Barbara is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and presenter who currently advises dozens of schools in various capacities. She is considered a thought leader in the world of advancement, with her writing widely shared by professionals in development offices worldwide.
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