Would You Rate Your Development Program a 10?
I was watching Serena Williams attempt to obtain the calendar grand slam in tennis recently. I hoped, like millions of other Americans, that she would win the U.S. Women’s Open Tennis Championship. She gave it her best effort, but it was not meant to be. While she was playing on the court, the camera panning the audience showed a number of celebrities in attendance, including Sean Connery, my favorite James Bond actor, and Nadia Comaneci, a former Romanian gymnast. Seeing Comaneci reminded me of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal when she received the first perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event.
I then reflected on the significance of the perfect No. 10. For a moment, I also thought about actress Bo Derek, crowned as a 10 in the 1979 romantic comedy film “10.” The film was written, produced and directed by Blake Edwards. Derek might have been a 10 in the movie, but actor Dudley Moore stole the show in his awkward attempts to chase her during the movie.
In the Bible the No. 10 is used 242 times. The designation 10th is used 79 times. Ten is also viewed as a complete and perfect number. God gave Ten Commandments to man. As such, the number signifies testimony, law, responsibility and the completeness of order. The number is also used in a variety of fields, including business, technology and sports. For many professionals, if you think of the No. 10, you think of perfection, the ultimate score to attain.
If you are a perfectionist like I am, you strive to be the best in your chosen endeavor. I attempt, at times, to motivate my staff to be the best they can be in their own area of focus. If you stop and decide to rate your development program on a 10-scale, grade your program on the following 10 program attributes needed for complete program success.
See how you measure up when grading your development program on the following variables from a 1-to-10 scale by answering the following questions:
- Administration: Does your administration fully understand and support development? Are they willing to go on solicitation calls and back your program’s strategic plan? Do they agree upon fundraising priorities? Is your CEO the master fundraiser for the organization?
- Board: Does your board give freely and willingly at a leadership level? Do they happily open doors with prospects? Does your board lead the way in all aspects of fundraising? Is development a top priority for them?
- Staff: Does your staff have the individual skills necessary for total program success? Are they trainable and do they understand their unique role in the total program structure? Are they self-starters and self-motivated to achieve increasing fundraising goals each year?
- Volunteers: Do volunteers embrace identifying, rating and screening prospects? Are they willing to tell stories that make the organization worthy of financial support? Do they have passion and are they willing to recruit others to join them in the pursuit of time, talent and treasure?
- Donors: Are your donors cheerful givers? Do your donors inspire other prospects to give? Are they willing to make larger gifts and a variety of types of gifts? Are these donors making transformational gifts and not just transactional gifts?
- Prospects: Are your best prospects found through extensive research profiles? Do they have LAI (linkage, ability and inclination)? Will they be receptive to cultivation, stewardship and solicitation techniques?
- Community: Is your community a true partner with your organization? Does your community of support include your United Way, community foundation, government leaders and other key constituencies? Would your community agree to your request for funding support?
- Friends: Do you have friends that have been long-time supporters of your organization? Would these friends easily embrace changes in organizational leadership over time? Would your friends give such advice for improvement regardless of the implications of the information?
- Peers: Have you tested your organizational plan with peers? Do you have mentors that can objectively critique your strategic plan? Can you state your look for best of class examples to improve your program on an ongoing basis?
- System: If your organization is part of a system, do you strive to make your program the best in the system? Do you constantly compare parts of your program elements with others in the total system? Do you engage with other chief development officers in your system to see what works for them?
In summary, strive to rate your development program a 10. It will take time, effort, patience, luck and opportunity. You will need all functioning program parts to make a successful program whole. You may not ultimately reach a 10 score on a scale of 10, but you should strive for constant score improvement. For some, a perfect score of 10 will always be a perception. For others, a 10 score will eventually be a reality. The key is to reach and maintain this score over time. Would you rate your development program a 10 on a 10-scale? Only you can answer this question.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.