Planning

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.

Are Your Sponsors Commitment Phobic?

Are Your Sponsors Commitment Phobic?

Do you have trouble getting your sponsors to sign on the bottom line?

Planning a fundraising event is challenging and time-consuming. You need a minimum of six months to plan an event (yes, I know it can be done in less, but it begins to get ugly if you have less time than that) and, ideally, nine months or more.

Lining up sponsorship commitments is usually something you do early in the process because that way, you can offer your sponsors maximum benefits—they can be in all of the pre-event publicity like participant registration or ticket sales and event promotional materials.

What if your sponsors delay making their commitment decisions? 

Sleep Soundly, Fundraisers

In a recently concluded survey of 1200 fundraisers, Gail Perry of Fired Up Fundraising asked “What Keeps 1200 Fundraisers Up at Night?” The answers were almost all were management related, painting a picture of pretty unpleasant places for many fundraisers to work. 

With the average tenure of Directors of Development now being less than two years and major gift officers being sixteen months according to a Nonprofit Times article out earlier this week, it seems fundraisers have good reasons for imitating the Runaway Bride, bolting out the door at the thought of making a long-term commitment to the organizations they serve.

In Gail's survey, fundraisers mentioned too much to do, too little assistance, too little support from management, confusion about priorities, changing priorities or changing goals mid-year, and an absence of a coordinated fundraising plan. Yuck!

No wonder we're unhappy with 57% of us planning to leave our current positions and 40% of us contemplating exiting the development profession altogether, according to Compasspoint's oft-cited Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. study. 

A Fundraising Program's Secret Ingredient: A Plan

A FUNDRAISING PROGRAM'S SECRET INGREDIENT: A PLAN

In fundraising, there is no silver bullet, no pixie dust to sprinkle, no incantation to chant and the only potion I’ve ever known anyone to brew entailed a strong portion of tequila. I own two wands, both pink and sporting Disney princesses, but I suspect neither contains any actual magical properties. Fundraising is about relationship building, hard work, and a good plan.

In fact, according to the Third Space Studio, it’s a whole lot more about the plan than we may have realized in the past.

Career Advice for Nonprofit Professionals

Career Advice for Nonprofit Professionals

In the nonprofit sector, we nonprofit professionals apply for positions in the nonprofit sector. We have experience with nonprofit jobs.  Because we’re nonprofit professionals with nonprofit experience, applying for nonprofit jobs, we assume that the people who are reviewing our resumes understand what our titles and positions mean and entail.  They don’t.  Even if we list our accomplishments, they don’t get it.  Too often, board members are hiring or sitting on the search committees that hire us. Those board members are almost always business people who don’t understand what’s involved in our jobs.

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

This Saturday is Christmas in July.  Santa might not be coming, but there are great sales everywhere and some retailers are even trying to get people thinking ahead to the holiday season which, if you’re a fundraiser, is a really good idea. If you haven’t already begun planning for the end of the year, now is the time to get started.

It’s four months until Giving Tuesday and five months until the close of the fiscal year.

12 Things To Do During The Summer Slow Down

12 Things To Do During The Summer Slow Down

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:

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? 

The Beauty of a Fundraising Plan

The Beauty of a Fundraising Plan

Several years ago, I took an Executive Director position at a nonprofit that serves several counties in Northeast Georgia. 

When I took the position, the organization was in trouble. The organization had ended several years in the red and had become overly reliant on a handful of dwindling government grants.

In self-defeating fashion, the organization’s board members had, become convinced that they couldn’t fundraise. Their last attempt to hold a fundraising event had resulted in a group of about 15 people—almost all board or staff—awkwardly hovering around the refreshments as the band played to an empty hall.