About this time every year, I receive a reminder from my health insurance company to go have a series of blood tests and health screenings. For years, I’ve grumbled about going. Every year, they tell me the same thing: you need to lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise more.
After I go through these screenings, I always get a phone call from someone with a chipper voice who tells me she is going to be my health coach. It always feels very invasive to me so I always say “No, thank you.”
But last year’s experience has helped change my tune.
For fundraisers and other nonprofit professionals, the summer months are often slow. Donors, board members, and other colleagues head out for vacations. It becomes difficult to hold committee meetings and get things accomplished. One board of directors I used to work with met monthly all year-long except in the months of July and December—December because of the long holiday break and July because they recognized that practically everyone was on vacation.
So how can you make the most of this summer slow down? Here are 12 things you can do while the office is quieter during the summer months:
This year’s Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, published annually by Kivi LeRoux Miller, highlighted the possibility of conflict within nonprofit organizations’ communications and development departments about role definitions, goals, resource allocations, strategies, tactics, and more.
And, just to prove how prescient the report might be, nonprofit fundraising and marketing bloggers have begun to slug it out online.
I suspect where communications and development cannot agree, collaborate, and talk things through, it is often the case that, in these situations, there is no culture of philanthropy. And while Underdeveloped calls on Development Directors to work to change from within the culture of philanthropy in organizations that lack it, it’s been my experience that in those organizations where no culture of philanthropy exists, the development director often lacks the power or authority to lead such change. By the nature of the problem, the development director is disenfranchised in these situations.
For the last several years, the idea of donor retention has been much discussed. Thought leaders like Adrian Sargeant, Penelope Burk, Jay Love and so many others including those associated with the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, have urged us to improve our stewardship practices telling us that donor attrition will rates will never improve if we don’t continue to improve our stewardship practices. As a result, we’ve all worked harder to acknowledge gifts in a more timely fashion, more sincerely, and more creatively with mixed results. We’ve also worked to be more creative and faithful about reporting back to our donors about the impact of their gifts, again, with mixed results. Reports on our practices continue to find uneven practices with some of us acknowledging gifts swiftly, others slowly, and still others, not at all.
In the years that we have spent talking about donor stewardship and its importance for donor retention, little seems to have changed. In fact, if anything, donor retention rates have continued their downward spiral and the problem has gotten worse.
Why has it been so difficult to make head-way on this problem? Why has it been so hard to turn the ship around on these issues?
Dear Program Staff:
1. Just because we don’t work with our clients face-to-face, on a regular basis, doesn’t mean we don’t care about them. In fact, we care about them.
Most of us could pretty easily work in sales, marketing, or communications positions in the corporate world (at much greater pay). But we choose to work here because we care, because we want to, because we love our clients and because we care about the mission. Our care for our clients might look different than yours, but it’s there nonetheless.
Creating Your 2015 Development Plan and Setting Your Fundraising Goals
One of the things I’m often asked–especially by Executive Directors who do not have a fundraising background–is what is reasonable to expect of their development directors.
This question is hardly surprising since the overwhelming majority of executive directors are unhappy with their development directors and feel that they should expect more. The crucial report, UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, reports that only 27% of Executive Directors of organizations with budgets of $1 million or less are “very satisfied” with their development directors. Executive Directors at larger organizations tend to be more satisfied with their development staff, but even there, the majority are unhappy with them. At nonprofits with budgets over $10 million—the organizations that have the budget size that presumably allows them to attract and retain top-notch fundraising professionals– Only 41% of Executive Directors report that they are very satisfied with their development directors. It is universal, then, that E.D.’s are unhappy with their Development Directors.
Further, disturbingly, 25% of the Executive Directors report that their last development director was fired. The primary reasons for that are poor fundraising performance (31%), poor performance in general (31%), or a non-fit with the organizational culture (22%). On the last one I’ll say, if a fundraiser is trying to create a fundraising culture where there is none, then OF COURSE the fundraiser won’t fit with the culture AND ISN’T THAT A GOOD THING that the Executive Director should support?