One of the greatest gifts you can give your organization is to be replaceable.
Build success, but also be replaceable. This is not to put yourself at risk. If you are growing your fundraising and building your organization, then you are growing as a professional. You may continue to be challenged at your organization, but to fulfill your potential and dreams it is sometimes time to move to another opportunity that your organization can’t offer.
Transitions—especially positive ones—can be very strong for you as a professional and for your organization.
Make your fundraising a program, built to last. Not about one person—you or your CEO.
- Create plans that include priorities, systems and structure so that fundraising excellence can continue after you are gone.
- Build a culture of philanthropy. To establish a true culture of philanthropy you will need allies and partner in development and in other areas of your organization—and especially the CEO and board chair.
- Grow your people. Look at the development of your team a part of your mission. Support them, coach them, challenge them and hold them accountable so that they will grow.
I’ve shared about the power of one—the difference one person can make in an organization. It takes that impetus, but for lasting change the initial spark becomes a flame and is passed along, shared by many. And it burns brighter and brighter.
When a CEO, chief development officer or other staff member is labeled “irreplaceable” I often cringe. Frequently that signals the time that they should leave. It means in many cases that systems and people are not being built and that most often foretells challenges ahead.
A single flame, a candle, will eventually burn out. You have to know when it's the right time to leave. In a healthy situation, it takes three years to make a lasting, sustainable impact. When you are not up to learning—or think you know it all—it is truly time to move to another opportunity.
Be replaceable—build a lasting legacy in the people you grow (staff, volunteers and donors), in the plans you develop and the systems you build to implement them. Make your fundraising built to last!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.