Mutual Trust Is a Must
Likewise, an agency shouldn’t inflate its projections in order to win a new account. Unfortunately there are agencies that take advantage of nonprofits that set unrealistic goals by saying, “Yes, we can do it,” even though they know the results aren’t attainable. Again, to cite the ADRFCO rules, “A member of the Association will not exaggerate its performance record or lead a prospective client to a false conclusion that a given result is guaranteed.”
Sometimes a nonprofit’s unrealistic program performance goals are driven by a development staff that is inexperienced in direct-response fundraising. Other times, uninformed boards dictate performance expectations to the development staff, which accept the numbers to get their budgets approved. The ADRFCO rules state that, “Fundraising counsel will not enter into a business relationship without reasonable assurance that the client understands the economics and processes of direct-response fundraising.”
Nonprofits should hire talented, experienced, direct-response fundraising professionals to lead their programs and advise their boards on program plans. Nonprofits also should commit to ongoing training of all fundraising staff. On their part, agencies need to share their knowledge and expertise with their clients, and not take advantage of a client’s knowledge gap. Agencies should know that an informed and educated client makes a strategic partnership much stronger.
The nonprofit community strives to make the world a better place through its many missions and programs. In turn, development teams, agencies and
other fundraising suppliers can make the world of fundraising a better place by conducting themselves in an honest and forthright manner — and trusting each other to do the same.
Lynn S. Edmonds is president of direct marketing firm L.W. Robbins Associates. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.