Articles by Linda

Why Strategic Planning?

Whether you and your nonprofit are small and struggling, in the middle of a growth spurt, or large and well established, you can benefit by looking at the future together as board and staff. In strategic planning, you have a unique opportunity to collaboratively envision your organization's future and determine how to get there. You can take advantage of strategic planning as a tool for changing the mode of functioning from “reactive to proactive.” And, such plans help get everyone moving forward toward a common destination or vision and have a positive impact on the sustainability of your organization. And, not exactly coincidently, these plans make excellent public relations pieces for funders and quite often you’ll notice them as a required item or reference in grant proposals for major projects.

Building Relationships with Business Leaders

You may not ways get to snuggle up to Steve Wozniak but developing relationships with key business leaders isn’t that hard either. For most people, getting in the door is often the hardest part of making an ask. And it is really intimidating for those who have not worked in the corporate world. How do you get in the door? What do you say to the corporate leader? What if the prospect says, “No, we’re not interested?” Do you have any relationship with these business leaders, or do you have a staff or board member who might?  You might be able to cultivate these relationships into stronger ones. The first thing you need to do is make sure you are hanging out where the corporate leaders hang out. You won’t find them by sitting in your office.

Advance in Your Fundraising Career by Following Three Simple Steps

When I first entered the wonderful world of philanthropy back in the dark ages (before email, can you believe that?), I realized if I wanted to advance in this career (and I did want that) I simply had to follow the same three steps I followed when I advanced rapidly in my banking career. They are simple steps, but not necessarily easy—they require some work on your part. The three steps are:

  1. Learn
  2. Get Involved
  3. Set Goals for Yourself

Sound simple? Well, it is much easier today that it was back in 1988 when I started in fundraising.

The Client-Consultant Collaboration

Are you a consultant or thinking of hiring one? Consultants are becoming an increasing part of the fundraising landscape.  They can lend expertise, supplement staff efforts, or serve as an objective third party during big decisions. It can seem so tempting to bring on an outsider, take a deep breath, and await the benefits. And yet, much of the onus lies in the client’s lap. While consultants can and should provide solid leadership along the way, clients sometimes expect the consultant to have a silver bullet that will solve all their problems while the staff focuses on tactics and leaves strategy to the consultant.  Even the best engagements can be made better when fundraising staff remains an active partner in the process.

Building a Comprehensive Development Plan

Every development plan is as unique as the organization that is creating it. What works for some organizations, might not necessarily work for yours. So be careful when asking colleagues to share their plans. You can’t just cut and paste to create your plan. There is no quick fix. First, you need to take into consideration where your organization is in its life cycle and where your development office is in its life cycle. For example, if your organization or institution is new, your programs might need a lot of grant funding to get started and you won’t have happy alumni, grateful patients, or other groups of individuals who are already supporting you. You might need to rely more on donor acquisition, which is costly and takes time to “pay off.” Or, if you’ve been around for a while but development is new, you’ll probably need to spend more time building infrastructure. So, don’t get worried if your development plan doesn’t look like the ones developed by the colleagues you asked to share theirs.

Wanna Get Business Leaders to Serve on Your Board and Sit through Meetings?

Many nonprofits have difficulty attracting business leaders to serve on their boards. When they are successful, they often lose those leaders within the first year. Ever wonder why? If you want these individuals to serve, you have to know what will make them comfortable and interested as well as what will make them run for the nearest door. Coming from a business background myself, I’ve been in positions on boards where I rapidly lost interest in serving for several reasons.

  • I got frustrated with “nonprofit-speak” and meetings that wasted my time.
  • I was pigeonholed.
  • My talents were not being used.