What Does Your Dream Organization Look Like?
The other day, as I drove down the road listening to a country music station, Joe Diffie's "In Another World," a Billboard top 10 country hit in 2002, came on. I've always been a fan of Diffie, and the song made me think of being in a different place or setting. In fact, I was thinking about what the perfect resource-development job is like. In this complex society and profession, there are many moving parts in play. In my mind however, I thought, "Wouldn’t our jobs be easier if we created our own organizational vision of the perfect nonprofit organization?"
Here's what my dream organization would look like:
• CEO: The CEO would block off a portion of his or her time just for me each week. I would use the time as I see fit for meetings, appointments, strategy sessions, internal focus groups, integration with board leadership and other factors. The CEO would completely support and understand the important role of philanthropy, and do whatever it took to willingly support me and my team.
• Board of directors: The executive committee of the board (and all board members) would make personal time to meet with me or my staff whenever I called. These individuals would make lead gifts and gladly open doors to high-level, wealthy connections. They would gladly go on solicitation calls and do whatever it took to generate time, talent or treasure for the organization. This board would also create a list of key individuals in the community, with whom my team would meet and engage on an ongoing basis.
• Administration: These internal leaders would work as a comprehensive team, and would train everyone within the organization to promote philanthropy. Employees would create their own funds to support the organizational mission through payroll deductions. Many long-term employees would also make an estate plan to benefit the organization. The chief financial officer would work closely with me on identifying organizational priorities, and help build a fundraising-priority process into the annual budgeting cycle. I would have the resources to market the fundraising program through old and new sources and techniques.
• Volunteers: There would be a large and committed group of volunteers to assist in every facet of organizational development. This group would consist of volunteers of all ages. They would willingly call to thank donors, take prospects on tours of facilities, make significant personal gifts and challenge staff with their long-term knowledge of the organization. They would provide my team with new ideas and recommendations and willingly visit prospects. This group would be very motivated at all times.
• Donors: This would be a thriving and growing group of annual, major and planned gift donors. The donors themselves would happily give and encourage others to give. Many individuals would give annual, major and planned gifts at the same time. Besides individual gifts, they would give corporate, foundation, organizational and association gifts. They would increase their gift levels each year, and willingly open their doors for visits with development staff. They would act as a sounding board for staff and keep the team on its toes.
• Miscellaneous: My dream organization would have a dynamic, comprehensive strategic and operational plan, with philanthropy an important part of the process. Each year, internal and external stakeholders would participate in a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Members of the organization would always positively challenge each other to improve, and servant leadership would be at the organizational core.
My staff would completely understand the need for continuous funding support, and would willingly stay long-term because they believe in institutional success. They would look for best-of-class examples and take pride in their want to exceed expectations. They would constantly evaluate the organization's mission and service model, based upon community needs and future trends. The organization would be named a great place to work and everyone would take pride in their daily performance.
As nonprofit professionals, we are not in another world. We are working in a world previously created for us. That doesn’t mean we cannot strive to improve our organizational resource-development performance. Look at each part of the organization and analyze it for resource-development potential. Take a long-term view, and strive to take steps to improve each part of the system. You may never totally change organizational dynamics during your tenure, but you are setting the tone for eventual success. By attempting to create and implement your organizational vision, you will make the process—and the organization—your own.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.