Why Fundraising Is Like Coaching Football
It's September, and a new football season is upon us. My West Virginia Mountaineers won their opener recently, and I'm excited. Having played football and other sports, plus coaching youths for many years, I feel like my style of management is much like coaching.
I try to coach the game of fundraising while teaching others how to play it. I also love to continually learn from other coaches.
The art and science of what we do always amazes me. The goal of fundraising during each fiscal year is to score. We work in a job where others count donors, gifts, dollars, solicitations, portfolios, volunteers, moves and other statistics. The numbers never go away or seem to be reduced. We are always asked to do more with less.
Having played many seasons in the fundraising profession, I feel the fall season typically begins the start of a new fundraising season. My goal as a head fundraiser/head football coach is to always have the best team of staff and volunteers in the game.
As a coach, I create the playbook as a guide for success. I expect my staff to project a variety of elements. These elements include creation of an operating plan, developing research strategies, developing ideas, helping identify prospects, cultivating and stewarding donors, initiating all types of correspondence, plus recruiting and training volunteer leaders.
This process gets very complex when you're establishing a development services unit that supports annual-, major- and planned-giving "plays." As a coach, you must evaluate all the players on the development field and make sure they are in sync with the goal of scoring. The staff must be prepared mentally and physically to handle the long and stressful fundraising season. You will have wins and losses as your staff and volunteers determine the outcome of each fundraising season.
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.