How Do We Attract, Develop and Retain Good Fundraisers?
What's it like for emerging fundraising leaders who are looking for a bright future in the nonprofit sector? At last week's International Fundraising Congress, many of us were transfixed by a provocative conversation about "The Emerging Fundraising Leadership Challenge."
International fundraising guru Tony Elischer, managing director of THINK Consulting Solutions, and five dynamic women — Rory Green, Maria Ros Jernberg, Joanne Warner, Elise Ledsinger and Lucy Gower — led the conversation.
(By the way, if you have not discovered Rory Green's hilarious Fundraiser Grrl Tumbler feed, go there right now and subscribe for some much-needed laughs!)
Is fundraising leadership 'pale, stale and male'?
Do you agree? Let's talk about the "stale" part of the above sentence. Everything is changing about fundraising today. Our industry is being blown apart by new technology and new ideas. The way we communicate is changing drastically. What donors expect and respond to is very different.
So the stale ideas that are prevalent in so many nonprofit boardrooms and executive suites are clearly not going to take us where we need to go. And stale ideas are not going to keep talented fundraisers around. According to the speakers, 31 percent of fundraisers left their jobs because of an "old-school culture of fundraising."
What's the old-school culture look like?
- It's when the president of a college tells me "I don't know whether to believe my staff." (This has happened to me more than once!)
- It's when the board members think they know more about fundraising than staff does.
- It's when your leaders aren't willing to try out anything new —just sticking with the same old, stale fundraising efforts year after year.
- It's when a toxic culture squashes young fundraisers' ideas and dreams.
Penelope Burk found that 40 percent of fundraisers said that conflicting opinions on how to raise the money was making them leave their jobs.