Stand Firm for Principles
Take a stand for what is right. As my decades in this field that I love grow, two things are continually reinforced:
- There is a right way to fundraise: proven principles and best practices, validated and honed by research. By breaking them and taking shortcuts, you shortchange your mission.
- Even with this body of knowledge, proven best practices and professional standards, there are volunteers — and yes, even staff — who insist that they know a better way.
These are all well-meaning people. They want the best for their organizations.
In some cases, they really just don't know better. They think they are experts — sometimes on all things.
In some cases, they just don't want to work hard, and they don't understand that following proven practices is easier — and more fun!
So, if you are a fundraising professional, stand your ground. Don't take shortcuts. Don't let staff or volunteers direct you to a path of less success — and often pain.
Educating board members on fundraising best practices is a never-ending cycle. Each year, hold an orientation program for your development committee and the full board. Explain to them basic fundraising principles, and share an overview of your development plan.
If you are looking to embark on a capital, endowment or comprehensive campaign, provide your board with the education it needs so everyone understands those core principles that ensure success.
And when well-meaning staff and donors want to take the wheel and steer you and your success off course — be polite, but be firm. When we cave in and take shortcuts, we truly shortchange the project at hand, the mission of our organization, those we serve, ourselves and our noble profession!
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.