Development Directors

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. 

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

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.

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?