Build an Ethical Fundraising Program to Last
I laughed. And I cringed.
I was attending a session at a fundraising professionals conference, where two consultants from the same company and a volunteer were presenting on a campaign that happened more than 15 years ago.
It wasn't the time that had passed that bothered me (although I couldn't believe a conference committee would allow it).
It was the pain I had endured cleaning up the mess that those two now-consultants had created as CEO and senior development staff member at the organization all those years ago. The volunteer, who was campaign chair at the time, used the process for recognition, and the staff used him to gain additional compensation.
I had been hired as chief development officer for this major organization. Soon after my arrival, I realized that the figures that were being reported on an annual basis and in this particular capital campaign didn't add up.
Smoke and mirrors.
Some of the information just wasn't factual. Some was double counted. There was no accountability throughout the organization on what was counted, how and why. Growth in the organization—and in the CEO's compensation—seemed to be the goal; the heavy debt that came along with that seemed irrelevant.
The campaign chair convened a heavy-hitting committee over lunch at his office every few months. But the reality of it was that in a $50 million campaign, the chair was only responsible for his own gift and one or two others. There was no real strategy (which is why things had to be counted in multiples) and other than engaging the committee in some high-end "awareness tours" and "thank you events," the committee chair had no real function. But the arrangement did help the CEO get closer to the committee, who were prominently highlighted by the organization and many of whom, coincidentally, sat on the his compensation committee.
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.