Little Dogs ... Big Tricks
So on a recent trip home from Los Angeles to New York, I decided to take matters into my own hands and jot down a few tips on the back of a cocktail napkin — tips that begin to address the specific needs of small- to medium-sized nonprofit organizations. These aren't scientific by any means … just a few things I collected along the way after serving as a senior manager at a large institution and then transitioning to a smaller organization. I also have served on several boards of smaller organizations that often need to be more creative in their approaches.
I. It starts at the top
OK, if you work for a small to midsized organization, the person in charge must be the fundraiser-in-chief. Period. The person at the top must understand fundraising and embrace it fully. He or she must serve as the point of contact for all major funders, and fundraising must be a significant portion of his or her job (50 percent, in my estimation). If this is not you — or your boss — then I'm just going to say it: I have a hard time believing that you are ever going to be bigger or better than you are right now. So make it so.
II. Make it a family affair
At a small organization, every member of the staff should be a fundraiser or know how to raise money. Everyone should understand how to build a budget and where the money comes from to pay for the work. Even consider giving each member of the staff a small portfolio of donors (five to 10) whom he or she can build a relationship with. Imagine a donor getting a timely update from a program staffer or a thank-you call from the person directly benefiting from her generosity. Pretty cool, right? An added benefit is that you are teaching someone else a really useful skill — especially if that person has executive director ambitions one day (really sell this point).