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Career in Policy, Think Tank Development, Read on…

Posted by Sandeep Shelke on July 17th, 2013

While browsing I found the document for Policy Career Guide at LibertyGuide. Bellow is something very interesting, motivational yet natural, which caught my attention.

Reproducing from the “Case Studies in Policy Rebecca Gaetz — South Carolina Policy Council”

Development is fast and intense. One minute I’m coordinating an event for hundreds of people and the next I’m nodding and smiling politely, as a major donor shakes with rage and says, “The president is leading all of us to the burning flames of hell.”  True story.

A “typical day in the office” does not exist. Mail has to go out and members need to be touched. There is always a major grant proposal to write and deadlines to meet. It never fails that an important donor will call in the middle of chaos and require an hour of my time—which I am always delighted to give—no matter what.
My friends like to crack jokes about how exhausting it must be “thinking all day” at a think tank. Laugh as they may, it’s true. Producing is a major factor in fundraising, but “thinking” is also essential. I’m constantly thinking of dynamic ways to bring in more people and more money, and most nights, these thoughts even invade my dreams.

The best part of the day is opening mail—big checks are major motivators. Surprisingly, I’ve also started to appreciate hate mail from fringe fanatics and pamphlets from radicals. A strong sense of humor is a must in this job!

Here’s some advice for anyone considering a career in think tank development: The only way to sell your mission is to believe and understand it. It is critical to wrap your head around the policy before you can even begin to relate to donors. Another must in development is the ability to write clearly and concisely. Also, if you don’t like people, stay away. If you aren’t in front of a donor,  you’ll be in front of your computer. Spreadsheets and databases are a necessary evil—but can be managed with the help of interns and (if you’re lucky) development staff.

Jay Bharat!

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