Don’t Go It Alone
Very few important tasks are worth going it alone.
After my first consulting project as a sole proprietor, I determined it would be my last solo flight. I missed the synergy and diverse talents of colleagues. I knew my strengths — but wanted colleagues who had strengths that I did not have and who could collaborate to make a project more successful.
Ever since, no project we have undertaken has been through the lenses of just one consultant. In feasibility studies, for example, we have at least two consultants who bring different backgrounds and skills collaborate. This brings about better results (and in this case is a gut check for any personal bias).
The same approach is best with any board or major-gift relationship. These are too critical to rely on just one staff member — or just one volunteer. The same benefits apply: the synergy of a team, various insights and a gut check for the proper direction.
We had a major client whose CEO just never got relationships. It was all about him. Early on in his tenure, staff and then the board said, "He doesn't listen." So in the campaign that we guided, we made sure that he never was alone with a prospect and oftentimes was secondary or not involved. This was tough because he wanted to take credit for every gift. Without this strategy, the campaign would never have hit goal. (Incidentally, after 10 years of suffering and paying for a "coach" to help him, the board finally announced his "retirement.")
Ironically, the CEO's predecessor was brilliant about relationships. He was very charismatic but also loose with facts and figures and a bit too flashy for some volunteers and donors. He realized this and was perfectly fine with abdicating and delegating relationships. He was concerned about results, not credit.
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.