Strategies for Navigating Some Leadership Struggles
“The problem with introducing new programs is that a lot of what you do in fundraising this year doesn’t pay off until next year, or later,” Osinski says. “For a year or two, you’re putting in a lot of up-front money, making investments, maybe hiring consultants, maybe hiring staff you didn’t have before. With direct mail, you might lose money for a couple of years. Special events have a lot of up -front costs. And that becomes a barrier to organizations that do not have a lot of discretionary money to invest. While government grants allow administrative costs, they do not cover fundraising.”
Osinski says getting buy-in for programs also requires the support of the board -- another thing that takes time. If, at the end of the day, you can’t budge the board or the CEO at all, Osinski says it might not be the right fit for you.
“You can’t quickly change a board. You have to start slowly, educating the ones you can and helping to bring on new board members,” she says. “But it’s another thing if the board just digs in their heels.”
She advises that when entering into an organization, fundraisers find out as much as they can about the management’s attitude and expectations, and look for signs of an entrenched board or founders resistant to change.
“Take a look at that before you get into the situation. And once you do, first be patient. Secondly, look for small areas you can work with,” Osinski says. “The first thing to look for is what can you do, and start there and work your way up.”
Bonnie Osinski can be reached through www.camba.org