The Key to Fundraising: The Resonate Experience
The definition of resonate according to Merriam-Webster is to continue to produce a loud, clear, deep sound for a long time. Another definition is to have a particular meaning or importance that affects or appeals to someone in a personal or emotional way. I had the experience of both definitions at a recent National Community Relations and Development Conference for the Salvation Army in Indianapolis.
For many fundraising professionals, the degrees and certifications generated over time seem like distant memories. We work each day and practice the art of fundraising learned through years of experience. When little time allows, we might talk to a peer or two about their experiences. This type of learning on the fly is wonderful but brief — and quickly forgotten.
How often have you jumped off of a diving board into a deep swimming pool? It is a different feeling but one that you remember. Even after many years of fundraising, I once again experienced this feeling at the NCRD Conference. I was pleased to look around and see more than 600 of my colleagues, both young and old, female and male, employees and officers, and those with an array of experience levels ready to meet and gladly share their lifetime experiences with others.
After a first-day opening inspirational session, I attended and participated in two intense days of various educational seminars led by the nationally known Lilly Family School of Philanthropy professors at Indiana University. I listened to presentations made by Dr. Gene Tempel, founding dean of the school; Dr. Patrick Rooney, associate dean of the school; Dr. Tim Seiler, director of the fundraising school; Dr. Una Osili, key faculty research professor; Ernie Vargo, adjunct faculty member; and others. In each case, these presentations were outstanding!
Updated and fresh information was presented on various key topics needed by community relations and development professionals. One participant was amazed at the talent level of educators that made an all-star team. These leaders, combined with senior-level Salvation Army instructors, made the educational programming stellar on all levels. There was much discussion on the blend of theory and practice with an emphasis on current and future trends, techniques and applications. You needed an "app" to follow the conference schedule, evaluate speakers, review detailed biographies, observe presentation power points, etc. There was also roundtable engagement with your peers over lunch plus the always-important hallway colleague discussions.
Of particular importance were the comments made by Seiler in his future of fundraising session. He noted that based upon research, effective fundraising in all times must include:
- Marketable programs/services
- Informed constituencies
- A workable plan
- Dedicated leadership
- A willingness to ask/give
- A high level of accountability
According to Seiler, fundraising is the "tough work of engagement," and transparency and accountability are critical for success.
I felt blessed to live in a city with such outstanding international fundraising educational leadership. As I reviewed the many conference handouts and notes in the days following the conference, I was smiling knowing that the information plus contacts gained from this special conference will resonate with me throughout the rest of my career.
Several of my younger staff members said to me after the conference that concepts I have previously shared with them were validated as a result of the conference. I said now you truly know what the word resonate means!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.