Cover Story: Feeding the Need
In addition to all the specific strategies that Delany and his staff have gleaned from the past few years, the overriding feeling is this: lesson learned. No one is about to bask too long in the glow of recent successes, especially not when it comes to direct marketing.
“We did the major push to take it all to the next level,” he says, “and now that we’re there, that doesn’t allow you to be comfortable. All that activity is ongoing.”
And to that end, he says, one of the biggest factors will be maintaining his senior-level staff and fostering a sense of dedication among his employees.
The newest senior-level staff member in the A2H development office had been there for two years at the end of 2003. Others had been on board five to seven years. Hiring “high-quality people really committed to the mission” is key to keeping the department and its programs vital, Delany says.
“Everyone here is committed to nonprofit careers as careers, not as a stepping stone to another sector,” he says, adding that successful nonprofit employees have “strong feelings that the intangible benefits are extremely important to them.”
Once Delany finds the “right” people, A2H itself makes keeping them a little easier by ensuring salaries and benefit packages that are competitive within the nonprofit sector, though few nonprofits can compete compensation-wise with corporate America.
“In general, we try not, within reason, to let money be a reason for people to leave,” Delany says. “If we no longer are able to provide growth, that’s another thing. But in an environment like I’m describing, there’s plenty of opportunity for people to step up and move up.”
For her part, Shoemaker reiterates Delany’s warning against complacency and stresses the importance of keeping your eye on the prize, as they say. “Remember that you aren’t raising money for money’s sake. It’s easy to lose focus when you get into the rhythm of your job and program,” she explains. “My fundraising efforts are tied to a cause that enables millions of Americans at risk of hunger to access groceries, and I try to remind myself of that often.”