Is It Possible to Work With an Arrogant Nonprofit Leader?
Most often, Jeff and I work with enlightened progressive and donor-centered leaders. And then, occasionally, one shows up that just takes our breath away.
That was my experience when I met with one nonprofit leader who needed help with his major gift program — at least that is what I thought.
His director of development was a very experienced gentleman who had worked for several national nonprofits. This director of development knew his stuff and also knew he needed help in major gifts. Things were not going well, and the numbers showed that.
Our meeting lasted a total of six minutes — all of which consisted of a monologue from this CEO on why the director of development was wasting his time with this meeting, how the director of development should know all he had to do was ask for money and why wasn’t he doing more of it?
I obviously did not get a word in. This guy knew it all so there was no reason for me to tell him what I thought though I did manage to tell him that he was losing millions of dollars from donors who were either going away or giving less. I showed him the facts. He brushed those details aside and kept talking.
It was not surprising that weeks after our meeting the director of development resigned and took another position with a well-known nonprofit.
Here is why I am telling you this story.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a major gifts officer, a director of development or any staff member working in a nonprofit — if your leader ignores best practice, does not take counsel, shames his employees in public, etc., you must get out. This is not the place for you.
The top leader of a nonprofit should love his cause, love and honor the donor, respect his employees and be willing and able to accept critique and counsel. If he or she can’t, that leader will not honor and respect donors. And if donors are not honored and respected, the economy of the organization will suffer, which means dark days ahead.
Do a reality check on your environment. If it needs a little help, then pitch in and help. But if arrogance and ignorance is operational every day, pack your bags and leave.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.