Development

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.

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.

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.

Your Development Plan: Time for a Check-Up

Your Development Plan:  Time for a Check-Up

About this time every year, I receive a reminder from my health insurance company to go have a series of blood tests and health screenings. For years, I’ve grumbled about going. Every year, they tell me the same thing:  you need to lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise more.

After I go through these screenings, I always get a phone call from someone with a chipper voice who tells me she is going to be my health coach.  It always feels very invasive to me so I always say “No, thank you.”

But last year’s experience has helped change my tune. 

4 Road-tested Tips for Special Events Planning from a Plunger-Wielding Pro

4 Road-tested Tips for Special Events Planning from a Plunger-Wielding Pro

“I miss the adrenaline of special events,” my friend Emily’s email message read.  We had worked together at a nonprofit organization a couple of years back and had worked side-by-side through many events. I had sent her a message and mentioned that I had an event the next day.     

About 5 minutes after I read Emily’s email, I got another email message from the Operations Manager of the next-day’s venue.  With less than 24 hours until our guests arrived, the manager’s message read [paraphrasing],

“Dear Event Organizer:  We know your event is tomorrow, but we’re writing to tell you that we’ve changed all of our rules.  Here are our new rules, including the rules you must follow before your event.  If you don’t follow every single one of the rules, your event will be cancelled. By the way, surprise:  here is your new invoice.  We’ve changed that, too.” 

Note to self:  “must tell Emily not to write foreshadowing email messages.

A Firestorm: Marketing v. Fundraising

A Firestorm:  Marketing v. Fundraising

This year’s Nonprofit Communications Trend Report, published annually by Kivi LeRoux Miller, highlighted the possibility of conflict within nonprofit organizations’ communications and development departments about role definitions, goals, resource allocations, strategies, tactics, and more. 

And, just to prove how prescient the report might be, nonprofit fundraising and marketing bloggers have begun to slug it out online.

I suspect where communications and development cannot agree, collaborate, and talk things through, it is often the case that, in these situations, there is no culture of philanthropy. And while Underdeveloped calls on Development Directors to work to change from within the culture of philanthropy in organizations that lack it, it’s been my experience that in those organizations where no culture of philanthropy exists, the development director often lacks the power or authority to lead such change.  By the nature of the problem, the development director is disenfranchised in these situations.

Dear Program Directors

Dear Program Directors

Dear Program Staff:

1. Just because we don’t work with our clients face-to-face, on a regular basis, doesn’t mean we don’t care about them. In fact, we care about them. 

Most of us could pretty easily work in sales, marketing, or communications positions in the corporate world (at much greater pay). But we choose to work here because we care, because we want to, because we love our clients and because we care about the mission.  Our care for our clients might look different than yours, but it’s there nonetheless.

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?