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Who among us has ever felt out of place, like we don’t belong, like “if they only knew…”?

I’ll be the first to raise my hand.

I did not graduate college right out of high school like I planned. Instead, I got pregnant, got married, had more children, divorced, and then, years later completed my college degree. I was 43.

For 20 years, I let people assume I was college educated, like they were. I took classes now and then, but never with a plan. I was too busy working and raising children. The final push was when I saw a business proposal written by my boss that included staff resumes. He had given me a college degree. In other words, he faked my resume.

I finally earned my undergraduate and graduate from a prestigious university in Dallas, Texas. I didn’t have to fake it anymore.

The new issue of AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy has an article on imposter syndrome within a fundraising team. That article spurred me to share my story with you.

Imposter Syndrome is real. It holds us back with self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, and avoiding failure by evading opportunities for growth and advancement.

According to the article, advice for “correcting” or “getting over” imposter syndrome disproportionately focused on the individual and so-called “self-improvement.” But the syndrome is more than that. People who do not identify with the traditional leadership model — white, male, heteronormative, etc. – are more likely to be adversely affected by impostor syndrome.

The article, “5 Steps to End Impostor Syndrome Within Your Fundraising Team,” offers this advice:

  1. Understand what impostor syndrome is – and isn’t.
  2. Be honest – is your office culture causing impostor syndrome?
  3. Move the conversation on imposter syndrome from feelings to data.
  4. Create mechanisms for change – along with accountability measures.
  5. Sponsor – don’t just mentor – your future fundraising leaders.

I encourage you to read the article in the April 2022 issue of Advancing Philanthropy, talk about it with your team and with your boss. Have the difficult conversations and make a difference.

Join me every Thursday at noon, CST, for About Fundraising and learn more about fundraising!

DMGroupConsulting, is your frontline fundraising consultant. Contact us at