Getting the Right People on the Bus
A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
Have a fundraising challenge you want to crack? Weary of doing the same old, same old yet hoping for different outcomes? Do you want the over-the-top results that come from superior strategy?
Email me with your particular problem, and I'll arrange a quick consultation offering you a practical solution you can implement. I may even use your situation to share with my readers. Names are changed, of course!
I had a delightful conversation with Tiffany a few days back regarding her environmental lifestyle organization. I was impressed with the good work her organization does and in the thoughtful way the folks there engage their community.
Her challenge is to deal effectively with success. Founded as an all-volunteer organization with a small outreach, there wasn't a payroll and programs were almost self-financing. Marketing wasn't a factor as word-of-mouth was sufficient.
Now that the word is out and their impact is being felt in the community at large, expanding to serve the entire county presents an entirely new set of issues.
It's not surprising that the founder and small group of committed volunteers really don't have the skill set to deal with the business of the organization—hiring staff, expanding programs, creating marketing, organizing fund development.
They've taken the first step in hiring Tiffany. She's more than competent. She brings executive skill and business acumen along with a true believer's spirit to her tasks.
What she's seeing now, unfortunately, is an all-too-common dysfunctional view of money among the small group of original stalwarts. The word "business" conjures up visions of overweening corporate greed rather than the requirement that all—ALL—viable organizations must have a working business model with stable positive revenue flow.
The founder sees the need to raise "money" at all as some sort of moral compromise.
Fortunately for Tiffany, she has a strong board president who is committed both with his time and his resources. He's a local businessman who "gets it" and isn't shy about enlisting the support of those he knows.
Experienced fundraisers know that in most communities, the single most generous group of people is those who own businesses. They feel intensely connected to the community. They want to make it a better place—both because they live there and realize their success is because of that community.
Tiffany's dilemma isn't about heading off Armageddon between the original visionaries and new leadership. It's about providing for a smooth transition in mind-set while retaining as many of the original folks as possible.
As I explained to Tiffany, no one person or small group of individuals "owns" a vision. Good ideas must be shared. They have to grow. Or they die.
Principle 3 of The Eight PrinciplesTM is Leadership LeadsTM. For your organization to be successful, your leadership must have both the vision and the skills to realize that vision.
Without the skills and resources to execute, the most worthy visions simply become pipe dreams.
My counsel to Tiffany was to work with each of those who are concerned with the movement away from hobby to professional, carefully explaining what's really at stake.
I told her not to expect 100 percent retention of the old guard. I also told her not to worry about it.
People have choices—and it's their choice to stay or leave. Let them make it.
What shouldn't change are the vision and the everyday mission that supports it.
I know that Tiffany has what it takes. She'll do just fine. I'm looking forward to hearing of her success in the future.
Thank you, Tiffany. Working with people like you is the real dividend of my work.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me (info@TheEightPrinciples.com), and I'll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I'll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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