How to Be a Small-Shop Nonprofit Development Director
During your first 30 days, you’ll want to make every possible effort to introduce yourself to every member of your board of directors if you haven’t already met them. Your donor base shouldn’t be viewed as an entity and neither should your board. Just as you’re trying to get to know your donors as individuals, get to know the members of your board as individuals, too. Besides, you want each and every board member to give to your organization, don’t you? Find out what motivated them to become involved with your organization (you’re collecting stories again!), what their fundraising goals are and share what kind of communications they’ll be receiving from you. Create a plan for regular board communication, perhaps via a weekly email from you or forwarding your favorite blog post of the week—your goal is to lead your board and create consistent avenues of communication.
Set up short meetings with individual staff members to introduce yourself, learn their roles in the organization and discern how you all can best work toward achieving the organization’s goals. You may even want to consider spending a day to shadow your program staffers.
Familiarize your organization with the local political scene and draft letters of introduction to your state senator, state representative and regional politicos. Research membership at your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or other community organizations. Compile a press kit and draft a letter of introduction to the editors of your local newspapers.
- Has your organization been involved with any community organizations in the past, such as Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, etc.?
- Who are your state and local government representatives?
- Does your community have local weekly or daily newspapers? If so, make it a point to keep current on the connections. If not, you may want to consider how involvement might benefit your organization.
Probably the most crucial aspect of your new job is your organization’s mission and how your donors relate to it. Your strong passion for the goals and values of your organization will be the key component to how well you are able to raise funds.
Whether you’re working for a museum, an arts organization, a free clinic, a school, a religious organization, etc., you must be thoroughly grounded and have a strong belief in the mission, as well as an understanding of your organization’s relationship to the community. Make it a point to learn why your organization was founded, who benefits from it and why its services are so important to the community.
Begin to gather your organization’s stories. Storytelling is a crucial component of successful fundraising because it gives your organization a voice. The stories will feature experiences of those impacted by your organization’s work and should inspire not only giving, but enthusiastic giving.
Wearing the many hats of a one-person development office includes a challenging set of roles. Make your first 100 days count! You know what to do ...
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.