Five Challenging Things About Working in a Small Shop

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Close to 10 percent of AFP’s membership identify as working in a small shop. This is Part 2 of AFP’s “Five Things” briefs about small shops: 1) Five Great Things About Working in a Small Shop, 2) Five Challenging Things About Working in a Small Shop and 3) Five Tips for Working in a Small Shop.

We asked Tim Brown who ran a food distribution hub in Kingston, which provided food for 87 schools for needy students; and Leanne Kopp, CFRE, executive director of Island Prostate Centre in Victoria, to provide insight.

Here are Five Challenging Things About Working in a Small Shop:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed: Working in a small shop is definitely overwhelming. I get overwhelmed all the time. Honestly, trying to maintain a realistic work/life balance is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.
  2. Sustaining rather than growing: You tend to get caught up in the work that needs to be maintained with little time to look at opportunities for growth. Major gifts and planned giving could be growth areas for us, but making sure the appropriate time is allocated to ensure this work happens is the problem.
  3. Keeping all the ‘plates spinning’ every week: There is no chance for down time. We have to maintain a regular weekly schedule. So, if someone is sick, the onus falls on others to pick up the pieces and keep moving.
  4. Working with volunteer board members who don’t really comprehend the business aspects of the work: One example was a board member bringing a ‘friend’ to a meeting to advise on fundraising. They weren’t aware that I had a CFRE and had skills. Sound familiar?
  5. The pay can be less than other charities:  Even though the budgets are not as big (approximately $700,000 annual budget), it is still a demanding role, but the salaries are often less in a small shop.

Please let us know if you have more great things to share about working in a small shop.

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