Don't Be Afraid to Question — and Question Again
"There is no way we are going into a $100 million campaign," my friend shared with frustration.
She had agreed to chair a campaign for one of her favorite institutions, although one that was causing her great stress.
"The vice president for development keeps calling me to meet with her consultant," she shared. There is nothing to meet about. We are going to divide this campaign up into phases and let them do one project at a time — correctly," she added.
I am a big proponent of feasibility and planning studies. Well, studies done correctly.
In this case, a study had been done. The campaign chair's family had, in fact, already identified as a major donor before the study. However, the consultant had used a gift identifier and a multiplying factor, not taking into consideration that there was a huge jump from her family's interest to the next gift. The consultant did not look at the organization's previous campaigns to see that this was a pattern. It did not tailor the project to the organization's circumstances.
A study properly conducted should maintain strict confidentiality among those whom were visited, but also provide the client enough information so it can see how the recommendations were developed. With our example, it was a big fail with the top donor and now campaign chair.
In this case, it could be sloppy work or a desire to secure a large campaign counsel retainer.
I encouraged my friend to keep pushing and to keep asking. She was fearful of being the lone voice. We all have that occasion — as professional fundraisers or in our lives as volunteers.
If things don't seem right as a staff or volunteer leader — ask. Don't be afraid to ask, and ask again and again, to challenge and to push.
If we see fundraising as the noble profession it is, we must challenge when things don't seem right. To safeguard our institutions, our reputations, and to uphold our donors' trust and the commitment we make to them, we must not be afraid to ask and ask again.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.