Fundraisers as Change Leaders

Fundraisers as Change Leaders

…I believe the concept of a culture of philanthropy or the lack of one is a useful idea for understanding whether or not an organization is ready to begin and sustain a development program.

However, I also believe that part of how receptive an organization is to a development program has little to do with how it feels about fundraising and more to do with how it feels about change.

Sleep Soundly, Fundraisers

In a recently concluded survey of 1200 fundraisers, Gail Perry of Fired Up Fundraising asked “What Keeps 1200 Fundraisers Up at Night?” The answers were almost all were management related, painting a picture of pretty unpleasant places for many fundraisers to work. 

With the average tenure of Directors of Development now being less than two years and major gift officers being sixteen months according to a Nonprofit Times article out earlier this week, it seems fundraisers have good reasons for imitating the Runaway Bride, bolting out the door at the thought of making a long-term commitment to the organizations they serve.

In Gail’s survey, fundraisers mentioned too much to do, too little assistance, too little support from management, confusion about priorities, changing priorities or changing goals mid-year, and an absence of a coordinated fundraising plan. Yuck!

No wonder we’re unhappy with 57% of us planning to leave our current positions and 40% of us contemplating exiting the development profession altogether, according to Compasspoint’s oft-cited Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. study. 

A Fundraising Program’s Secret Ingredient: A Plan

A FUNDRAISING PROGRAM’S SECRET INGREDIENT: A PLAN

In fundraising, there is no silver bullet, no pixie dust to sprinkle, no incantation to chant and the only potion I’ve ever known anyone to brew entailed a strong portion of tequila. I own two wands, both pink and sporting Disney princesses, but I suspect neither contains any actual magical properties. Fundraising is about relationship building, hard work, and a good plan.

In fact, according to the Third Space Studio, it’s a whole lot more about the plan than we may have realized in the past.

Budgeting for Fundraising Success

It’s that time of year when many nonprofit organizations are working on the annual budget. An Executive Director friend, working on his budget, asked me if I could outline for him what types of expenses belong in a combined development, marketing, and communications budget. He wants to make sure that the Development Director at his organization has all the tools he needs in the budget to succeed. 

Kudos to him! The reality is that it takes money to make money and my friend is wise to realize that. It won’t do any good to put a Development Director on your payroll if you don’t also provide him or her with a budget to work with. If you want your development director to solicit major gifts, for example, you need your development officer to be able to visit your major donors, to see them face to face and, unless your donors live inside your office building, that means needing a budget for travel.

Here are some things that a Development Director is going to need funding for and a template for a development budget. 

3 Ways to Not Leave Money on the Table

I’ll never forget. It was Christmas at my first Director of Development job. It was actually the second nonprofit I had worked for, but the first one I had ever served as the director of the fundraising program. I was also the first full-time director of development in the organization’s history. The organization, a children’s shelter, received a large portion of its donations for the year from its end of year campaign. I felt a lot of pressure that first holiday season to succeed.

In response to an appeal letter I had mailed, one donor called and asked to come visit. Of course, I readily agreed. We sat in the living room of one of our buildings talking and then, he asked me (!) how much he could give. He got out his checkbook and waited for me to give him a number. This, of course, is a fundraiser’s dream.

The problem was, I was such a novice at that time that I sat there pretty much frozen and didn’t know what to say!