Coaching as a Tool to Break Through Today’s Fundraising Challenges
Influential nonprofit fundraisers have long been admired for the boundless energy they put toward ensuring the success of the organizations and causes they champion. The continued passion and dedication they exhibit are inspirational to many and serve as a reminder of the reason we choose to work in the nonprofit profession. But in light of all the challenges nonprofit fundraisers face today, how can they continue to attain that exhilarating level of excitement about the critical work they and their organizations do in their communities and the world?
Today’s nonprofit challenges are not one dimensional. Funding resources are becoming more diverse and remain susceptible to market volatility. Competition for trained and qualified employees is fierce and, as Fortune magazine reported in its September 2006 issue, by 2016, more than 640,000 new senior managers will be needed to staff a growing nonprofit sector.
Both board members and donors are increasing their demand for greater fiscal accountability from nonprofit leaders while still asking that more be done with less. What’s more, fundraising executives find it is lonely at the top without trusted advisers with whom they can brainstorm, set goals, discuss their anxieties, and work through board and personnel challenges.
Of course there are more challenges that can be mentioned here, but it is already obvious that a not-so-delectable recipe is being concocted from both controllable and non-controllable forces for fundraising leaders to swallow. Often the outcome is the stress and burnout that tend to have an adverse effect on personal and professional well-being, resulting in ineffective leadership. There is no definitive solution, but it can be agreed that preventing such burnout is a desirable alternative.
So how do nonprofit organizations help support their development leaders to maintain their focus and drive in the face of stiff challenges? A look to our colleagues in the private sector may provide a viable option.
Long ago, professionals in the private sector added business coaching to their list of best practices. Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations have been slow to adopt this practice even though they have incorporated other best practices from the corporate world such as financial analysis, governance and customer centrism. With the addition of coaching at the levels of senior- and mid-level management, a typical return on investment of six times its cost was achieved according to a study conducted by Manchester Incorporated. This is an investment even the strictest CFO could love.
Business coaching is not a new phenomenon. It started to garner support back in the 1980s and continued with much success as executives at some of America’s largest corporations began to recognize an improvement in performance among managers who were working with a coach. In many corporate circles, coaching is now seen as an investment in human capital that is paying a handsome return not just in terms of the bottom line, but with decision-making skills and stress management as well.
In many respects, coaching has rescued countless middle- and senior level managers from becoming real burnout statistics by helping them strike a balance between personal and professional life, controllable and non-controllable events, career fulfillment, and time-management issues.
Additionally, many find the experience coaching provides to be superior to one-time professional development seminars, and for a very important reason. Unlike a workshop or training seminar that leaves you alone at the end to implement what you’ve learned, a coach is there to establish a relationship that lasts for as long as necessary. The relationship, whether it is for three months or three years, is extremely important because the power to institute change lies in the alliance between coach and client.
What to look for
Still, not all coaching arrangements are a good fit. Professionals looking for a business coach need to be selective. They should always interview perspective coaches and look for a personality match that suits their needs and preferences. When the proper connection is made between coach and client, the results can move a leader from good to extraordinary.
It is also important to note that coaches cannot work miracles by themselves. Coaching will only have an impact to the extent that the clients are committed to discovering opportunities that will move them forward on the road to success. Commitment will require work on the part of the client that goes beyond just showing up for scheduled sessions. It is crucial to have a belief in the process, the shared establishment of goals and strategies, and the willingness to change and be held accountable for making those changes.
What sounds like work is work, but such labor is not a burden when accomplishments become visible and goals become reality. Just hiring a coach will not be the proverbial “silver bullet” and won’t insulate fundraising leaders from the realities of life, but it can be a tremendous tool for nonprofit organizations as they aim to fortify their leaders with the passion and motivation that inspires others.
Top Five Reasons Nonprofit Leaders Work with a Business Coach
1. Effectively manage stress and make behavioral changes to promote productivity.
2. Align leadership demands with job responsibilities especially strategic planning and time management.
3. Support during major organizational transition.
4. Improve relationship and communication with board members.
5. Enhance employee job satisfaction to reduce costly staff turnover.
James Boyle is the founder oft Higher Potentials. He can be reached at email@example.com or through www.higherpotentials.com