‘Call Yourself a Team’
And being in New York, it’s very difficult because I think philanthropy is probably the hottest field right now. Everyone wants to get into it, and there are a lot of people looking for good people, good major-gift officers, really good leaders, institutional leaders in philanthropy as well as fundraising staff. So I think right now, people are moving around in jobs a lot, and it really hurts your donor base because they have great loyalty and attachment to you. We’ve been fortunate because I have people on my staff who have been here for a while and they like it and they stay.
FS: What are ways to rise above that challenge?
LF: If you’re leading your fundraising program, you really have to be a great mentor for [your] staff; constantly communicate. To the extent that you can, let your staff know exactly what’s happening because then they feel included; and when they feel included, they feel good and they stay, and they do a great job. When we go out and see alumni and donors, they want to know that we’re solid, that we really like what we do, we like who we do it with.
Stay positive. Always encourage the people you have. Talk to them. Also do some informational meetings and just be a great mentor. I think the more positive you are and the more you like [your job], the more you’re going to attract great people that want to stay with you.
And call yourself a team. You can be a team of two or four. We have a staff of 40, and when I came here I just said, “We’re going to be called ‘Team Philanthropy,’” and that’s who we are. We share in our successes, we share in our challenges. Everyone will hear at the same time what’s going on. I have a full staff meeting, everybody comes, including administrative assistants — and that applies no matter what size [organization] you are.