This is the second part of an ongoing conversation between the artful fundraiser, Jeremy Hatch, and Radiancy Coaching Partners. Get the latest post each week by signing up here and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Read Jeremy’s first post, Is fundraising a profession?
Jeremy: Your points are valid about the state of the profession. And I’m glad your complexion and health have improved since moving on to fundraising consulting. (What does this say about the health of our friends still on the other side? Eek.)
Frankly I’m constantly surprised that our sector continues to do the good work that it does with turnover of its primary fundraising staff every 18 to 24 months. With many organizations relying on 25 to 50% (and more!) of their revenue from donated dollars, how do they keep their doors open? If their primary program delivery staff changed over as often they wouldn’t make it.
In the recent CompassPoint report, Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, they highlighted the many challenges facing our development departments that we’ve all seen:
- Board members refusing to help.
- Executive directors putting all of the accountability and responsibility for raising funds with the development director (often a one-person show responsible for way too much)
- Program staff saying, “That’s not my job.”
In this same report, this particular stat caught my eye: Twenty-seven percent (27%) of executives leading organizations with operating budgets of $1 million or less reported being “very satisfied” with their development director’s performance, compared to 41% of executives leading nonprofits of $10 million or more.
Well resourced = Successful
Less than a third of development directors in our smaller organizations are meeting their boss’s expectations. Two-thirds of these bosses/executive directors probably need to re-align their expectations and do more for their fundraising staff.
- Chances are this person isn’t trained sufficiently. Smaller budgets mean smaller salaries, which often means less qualified individuals who need more training and coaching.
- They aren’t working with the board president to recruit board members who are willing to assist with fundraising.
- There isn’t a culture of philanthropy that writes fundraising into everyone’s job description. I’m dead serious. If an organization is relying on any significant percentage of their revenue from contributions, all staff need to understand what that means and how they can support development work. This doesn’t mean the program director is soliciting, but it could mean some creative ways where donors get to interact with those delivering the services. I once had a program director tell me that he wasn’t going to communicate with the development director because, “She didn’t need to know what was going on with programming, she just needed to raise money.” Blek.
I’ll leave the fundraising consulting to you, Jeremy (because you’re so darn good at it), but these are important questions that the organization needs to ask and answer honestly to create a high-performing development function that is connected to the daily work of the nonprofit:
- What is the realistic capacity of our organization’s development staff and the technology we use to manage donors and donations?
- Beyond the development director, who is soliciting directly and serving as an ambassador for the organization?
- How is philanthropy and fundraising valued across the organization?
- Is the development director a true key leader in the nonprofit’s organizational planning and strategy?
- Are we treating people (donors, staff, and volunteers) as people and not just revenue sources or resources for the mission?
Here’s the kicker: What does it reveal when the executive director, board president, and development director compare their responses?
What do you think?