Executive directors and CEOs have an incredibly challenging job. In my ongoing research with nonprofit executives, they often tell me that boards hire the nonprofit leader to be a fundraiser, but they don’t allow the leader to staff the nonprofit in a way that frees her up to fundraise. As a result, many nonprofit executives find that constantly “putting out fires” crowds out strategic activities like donor involvement.
I speak to thousands of fundraisers every year, at conferences around the world. And the question I hear most often is a plea for help: "How do I convince my boss?" Fundraisers might well be the most second-guessed professionals in the world.
What we have here is a deep and abiding lack of trust. And where's that lack of trust obvious? I see it in the weeds, among the tiny tactics that make or break success in donor communications.
Here’s the scoop: Development officers quit. Bosses fire development officers. Boards don’t play. Organizations don’t get it. This vicious cycle threatens financing of the sector. And this has been going on for years, and we aren’t really fixing it.
Hmmm. Anyone worried yet?
The scoop is old news if you work in the nonprofit sector. The scoop is old news if you read CompassPoint’s report, “UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising,” released in January 2013.
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The rise of so many research groups increases the importance of understanding what is based on careful data gathering and analysis and what is not. Much of today’s nonprofit “research” is not as rigorous as it should be, leaving it to readers to be more discerning. Here are five simple questions everyone should ask about nonprofit research.
Organizational leaders say they want big-time fundraising results but they don’t want to take time to understand what it takes — or spend money to make it happen. Based on the research data in this article, and on my own experience, I humbly offer this recipe to create a fundraising effort that won’t succeed. Here’s how to demoralize the staff, distract them from agreed-upon goals and plans, and undercut your fundraising in every way.
If you want to attract and retain someone who will develop a sustainable financial engine for your nonprofit, don’t leave your fundraiser out in the cold. Fully integrate your head fundraiser into your organization, and provide the tools, support and resources necessary to succeed.
Assuming that the organization has a compelling mission and does good work, the real keys to effective fundraising are the leadership, vision and skill of the executive director; an engaged, committed and high-functioning board; and a strong working partnership between the board and the executive. If those things are in place, a development director can be successful. And if those things are not in place, even the most talented development director will struggle.
As we anticipate trends impacting nonprofits in 2013, “fundraising isn’t expected to significantly increase” rises to the top. UnderDeveloped, a recent report from CompassPoint, examines fundraising trends from a different direction, from within nonprofit organizations. How are development staffs set up for success? Who is doing the heavy lifting? What are the expectations?
Knowing that fundraising is expect to carry on as is this year and that across the nonprofit sector, experience and turnover are challenges, nonprofits need to prepare. Your nonprofit likely should consider the following …
A new national survey of nonprofit executives suggests it isn’t just the uncertain economy that’s making it hard for charities to meet their fundraising goals. The research says there’s something fundamentally amiss with the way many of them go about courting donors.
“This study reveals that many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed,” begins the report commissioned by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and conducted by CompassPoint.