Executive Directors

DeBrief without Finger-Pointing or Blame

DeBrief without Finger-Pointing or Blame

A friend of mine recently emailed and asked for help with a debrief. Her organization had scheduled a fundraising event that didn't succeed. In fact, the organization ended up cancelling the event because not enough tickets sold to hold it successfully. Here is some of the advice I shared:

 

  1. Start with self evaluation – Before the debrief conversation, give your team some questions to consider before your meeting. Some people process things slowly or need some time to reflect on how to articulate their thoughts. Self evaluation before the conversation gives them this time. Self evaluation also encourages people to reflect on their own role and to take responsibility for their part in the event's success and failure.

Mission Moments: Keeping Your Board Connected

MISSION MOMENTS: KEEPING YOUR BOARD CONNECTED

Are your board members missing meetings? Not showing up at events? Are your board members M.I.A.? Fear not! You can keep them engaged with mission moments. 

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. 

Signs Your Organization Lacks a Culture of Philanthropy - Part II

Signs Your Organization Lacks a Culture of Philanthropy - Part II

Signs Your Organization Lacks a Culture of Philanthropy - Part II

In an earlier post, I wrote about some of the ways that a board of directors reveals that an organization does not have a Culture of Philanthropy. Here I write about how some of an organization’s Executive Directors and staff members similarly make visible that an organization lacks a Culture of Philanthropy.

Signs Your Organization Has No Culture of Philanthropy

Signs Your Organization Has No Culture of Philanthropy

Too many organizations want to treat fundraising as an add-on, like an extra appendage sewn onto the body. Imagine attaching a limb—say an arm—to the body, but not connecting it to the circulatory and nerve system and not re-wiring the brain to recognize the new arm.  How uselessly it would flop around!  Eventually, without blood, oxygen, and the protection of the nerve system, the limb would die.

For fundraising to work – that is, for fundraising to be done as sustained, donor-centric development, rather than as an episodic, short-term, organization-centered fundraising, fundraising requires changes with which many organizations are simply not comfortable.

If fundraising hasn’t been an integral part of the organization’s life from its beginning, it has to be skillfully grafted on in a way that wires it to the brain and connects it to the body’s major systems.

Here are my 13 Ways an Organization Reveals That It Is Not Serious about Fundraising

Nonprofit Boards and the Dysfunctions of Team

Nonprofit Boards and the Dysfunctions of Team

Nonprofit Board members are unprepared to govern.  That’s the finding of the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, a study released in April jointly conducted by GuidestarBoardSource, and the Stanford Business School.

What remedies would we pursue if we were to view the breakdowns in our systems of nonprofit governance as failures of the early stages of team building rather than as the [later] results of process and outcomes failures? 

Are Our Hiring Practices Following Our Fundraising Goals?

Are Our Hiring Practices Following Our Fundraising Goals?

For the last several years, the idea of donor retention has been much discussed.  Thought leaders like Adrian SargeantPenelope BurkJay 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? 

Creating Your 2015 Development Plan and Setting Your Fundraising Goals

Creating Your 2015 Development Plan and Setting Your Fundraising Goals

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?