Executive Directors

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 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? 

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.

4 Things to Do to Ensure You Never Miss Out On Another Grant Opportunity

4 Things to Do to Ensure You Never Miss Out On Another Grant Opportunity

Wait:  Phenomenal grant opportunity just landed in your inbox.  It’s a perfect fit your organization.  Unrestricted funding.  Thousands of dollars.  Tailor-made for you.  Deadline:  24 hours from now. 

You’ve got to get it together.  Fast.

What can you do NOW to set yourself up to succeed when this happens this year?

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?