Articles by Linda
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:
- Get Involved
- 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.
Getting Ready for a Capital Campaign: Community Readiness
Although your relationships with your current donors are of primary importance during a campaign, there is also a great benefit to having strong awareness of your organization within the community. Considering the external factors will also be important. A capital campaign is the most public type of fundraising your organization will do. While most of the donors to your campaign will be among your loyal supporters, a capital campaign provides you with the optimum opportunity to reach out and create awareness in the entire community. Many organizations have successfully used a campaign to attract new donors to their causes.
Choosing the Right Charity for Your Company!
Gone are the days when companies gave to the same old reliable charities because “It’s the thing to do,” or “We’ve always supported this cause,” or “They have a great reputation.” Today’s corporate donors are looking for results, but decision makers need to feel passion in their own hearts for the cause or the project. I’ve given lots of advice on how to choose a charity with your head:
- Read it’s 990 forms
- Ask if the charity follows the Donor Bill of Rights and if it has a Code of Ethics
- Make sure the charity is registered in your state if required to do so
- Ask if it has a strategic plan
- Check to see who is on the board.
I still argue that all of these things are important, but, as a decision maker for your company, you also need to choose with your heart.