The Question Every Fundraising Professional Needs to Be Able to Answer
Strategic planning is a passion of mine. It is energizing and rewarding to provide the tools and resources for a client to determine his or her future.
My first foray into strategic planning was when I was leading a capital campaign that would hit goal and had the ability to overachieve it by far. I went to the CEO so that we could make plans for another phase. "What is next?" I asked. The response was silence and a blank stare, so I quickly researched all I could about strategic planning, and we embarked on a fast-paced process in time to expand the campaign and successfully reach a higher goal.
Every CEO, every chief development officer and every development professional needs to be able to answer one question: What is your big vision?
"Big thinking precedes great achievement," wrote author Wilferd Peterson.
This week a respected colleague shared a recent experience with me. A major foundation asked a college at the university where he is in a leadership role, "what would it take to make this program the best in the country, how much money and what would it look like?" Unfortunately, the dean was unable to articulate a vision.
"The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision," said Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the former president of the University of Notre Dame. "It's got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet."
Think of your largest gift ever, or even you largest annual gift ever. If someone were to offer you a gift twice that large, or five times that large, what would you do with it? What are your priorities? What is your bold vision? Be prepared, because if you really connect with your donors and prospective donors, you will face this question one day. And what an incredible opportunity for your mission and those you serve!
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.