board give/get requirement
The news is not good lately about how effective the head fundraiser is at nonprofit organizations. A new study by CompassPoint reveals some startling realities about the fundraiser role in the nonprofit sector:
- 25% of executive directors fired their last development director
- 33% of executive directors are lukewarm about their current development director
- More than 50% of executive directors say they can’t find well-qualified fundraisers
- 50% of development directors plan to leave within the next two years
- And 40% plan to leave fundraising altogether
That sounds like a fundraising crisis to me. And it’s just another example of why fundraising in the nonprofit sector is broken. So in today’s installment of my regular Financing Not Fundraising blog series, I’m talking about how to find and keep a great fundraiser.
If you’re new to this series, Financing Not Fundraising recognizes that fundraising in the nonprofit sector just doesn’t work anymore. Nonprofits have to break out of the narrow view that traditional FUNDRAISING (individual donor appeals, events, foundation grants) will completely fund all of their activities and instead work to create a broader approach to securing the overall FINANCING necessary to create social change. You can read the entire series here.
What I find most troubling about CompassPoint’s recent study is that it makes nonprofits sound so powerless to do anything about this deep dissatisfaction with fundraising performance. But I think it’s not staff, board or donors who are lacking, rather it’s the entire fundraising approach.
Here is how to go about finding and keeping a great fundraiser.
- Hire a Money Head. Don’t hire someone who can just write grants or someone who can just work with individual donors. Take a look at the entire financial engine of your organization and hire someone who can develop and execute a strategy for strengthening and growing ALL aspects of that financial engine. If you have significant government grants or earned income, make sure you have someone on board who understands and can work with those aspects as well as the private money that flows to the organization.
- Develop a Financing Plan. Don’t just expect to hire someone who will magically make money appear. Your head fundraiser has to be in charge of developing and executing an overall financing strategy for your organization. And that means that you need an overall financing strategy for your organization. Without a strategy, your chief fundraiser and your nonprofit are sunk.
- Pay a Real Salary. It amazes me how many nonprofits expect to entice a great fundraiser by offering a salary that is comparable to someone with only a few years of experience . If you don’t have the current budget to pay a market rate, raise capacity capital to fund the first 1-2 years of the position. Once you have a great fundraiser on board he will raise his own salary while growing your nonprofit’s overall revenue.
- Work WITH Them. It drives me crazy how many times a nonprofit’s lone fundraiser is trying to raise all the money by herself. If you are going to align mission and money, you have to make sure that EVERYONE in the organization (board and staff) understand their role in bringing money in the door. Create a culture of philanthropy among the staff so that even a staff member who doesn’t have dollar goals in her job description understands that talking to prospects and donors, giving tours, writing thank you notes are critical to keeping the organization going. And make sure the board is trained in fundraising, has a give/get requirement, and has specific individual and board money goals.
- Hire Enough Fundraisers. The rule of thumb is that it takes one full time person to raise $500K, including anyone who touches prospects and donors (database manager, prospect researcher, etc). If you are asking a single fundraiser to raise $1.5 million there is little wonder why she is (and you are) miserable.
- Give Them Tools. Don’t hire a great fundraiser and then fail to give him a donor database, an interactive website, marketing materials, prospect research, support. It does no good to hire someone with great ideas but no way to bring those ideas to fruition. If you don’t have the budget for additional support and tools, raise capacity capital to find it.
- Train Them. No one knows it all. In every other profession we expect to send employees to conferences, provide them classes, coach them along the way. Don’t expect that your fundraiser automatically knows all there is to know. Give him opportunities to gain new knowledge, meet others in the field, and continue to grow his skills.
If you want to attract and retain someone who will develop a sustainable financial engine for your nonprofit, don’t leave her out in the cold. Fully integrate your head fundraiser into your organization and give her the tools, support and resources necessary to succeed.
If you want to move your nonprofit from fundraising to financing, check out the Financing Not Fundraising page of our website with articles, e-books and webinars to get you started. Or if you’d like to find out more about how I could help your nonprofit develop a financing plan or coach your fundraising staff to greater success, send me an email at email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Sahaja
I was in Birmingham, Alabama this past weekend showing a nonprofit board of directors how to finance, not fundraise for, their organization. I love leading these sessions because there is always a point, about 45 minutes into the session, when I see the light bulb go on around the room. Board members become energized when they realize that instead of fearing money as they have always done, they can employ it to create more social change.
Like it or not, money is an incredible tool. If nonprofit leaders could better understand, stop fearing, and learn how to wield money effectively, the results could be transformative.
Here’s what it means for a nonprofit to wield the money tool:
- Add Money to Every Conversation
When you have a board meeting to discuss a new potential activity, make sure someone is asking the question “What are the financial implications of this decision?” And when you are developing a new strategic plan, make sure you spend as much time on program goals as you do on financial goals. Money should never be far from your thoughts because there is no mission without money.
- Create a Financing Strategy
To effectively use a tool you must have a strategy behind it. You cannot just hope that the right amount and kind of money will magically appear at your doorstep. Instead, you must develop a financing strategy that answers the question “How will we raise the money we need to achieve our goals?” A strong financial plan demonstrates how much money you need, over what time frame, how it will come in the door, and what activities are required to make it happen. A comprehensive financing plan creates long-term sustainability for your organization, which means you are more likely to create social change.
- Make Every Board Member Contribute Financially
You simply will not have every board member thinking about money if they don’t each have a role in the financial engine of the organization. I am a firm believer in a mandatory give/get requirement for every board member. But let me be clear, I am not suggesting that every board member must write a big check, or even have friends who can write a big check. Rather, there are countless ways for board members to contribute to the financial bottom line of their nonprofit. Make sure that every single one of them does.
- Ask For Investments, Not Donations
If you are begging for money you aren’t using money as a tool. Money is what makes your theory of change a reality. So don’t put out the tin cup, rather create a message of impact that describes how your organization takes community resources and transforms them into better lives and better communities. Your organization is about solving problems. Articulate that and find partners who want to invest in that social change work.
- Raise Capital, Not Just Revenue
A critical, but rarely employed, use of money is to build a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits can no longer scrape by with inadequate technology, staff, materials, systems. They must create strong, sustainable organizations around their mission. And they need capital (money for technology, revenue-generating staff, systems, etc.) to do that. Instead of piecing your infrastructure together day after day, launch a capacity capital campaign to raise the money you really need.
Money doesn’t have to be a feared, uncomfortable element in the nonprofit sector. It can be an incredibly powerful tool for creating social change. Indeed, the only way for a nonprofit to really succeed is to embrace all that money has to offer.
Again and again, I’ve heard people say that innovation will never become part of the nonprofit sector — that nonprofits are too set in their ways. Or that the sector is too broken to emerge anew. And a particular area of dysfunction that people point to is the volunteer group that leads the nonprofit sector: the board of directors. But that attitude is unacceptable. There is great danger in dismissing the nonprofit board. The new Social Velocity e-book released today, “10 Traits of a Groundbreaking Board” sets that attitude on its head.
Sure, boards tend to be inefficient, dysfunctional and broken. Yet there is tremendous potential for innovation. Indeed, without innovation at the board level, the broader movement to solve social problems is doomed.
A groundbreaking board can lead the reinvention of the nonprofit sector. A groundbreaking board demands more from itself, its nonprofit and the sector as a whole. It leads the nonprofit it serves to greater financial sustainability, more effective use of resources, and ultimately more social change. Through its excellence, a groundbreaking board can transform the nonprofit they serve, the community the nonprofit impacts, and ultimately the sector itself.
This 28-page e-book examines the 10 traits that define a groundbreaking board. Each of the 10 chapters of this book describe in detail how a groundbreaking board operates:
- Defines Itself: The board as a whole decides what it should do and how.
- Assembles the Right People: A groundbreaking board doesn’t leave recruitment up to chance or circumstance.
- Drives Strategy: A groundbreaking board leaves the day-to-day operations of their nonprofit to the staff and instead grapples with the big picture, strategic, visionary questions of the organization.
- Ensures Mission, Money & Competence Alignment: A groundbreaking board ensures that the nonprofit they serve is positioned for greatest success.
- Craves Impact: A groundbreaking board shows up because they care deeply about the change their nonprofit is making in the world.
- Raises Money: A groundbreaking board understands that every single board member must be responsible for helping to bring money in the door.
- Wields the Money Sword: The groundbreaking board continually analyzes the financial model of the organization and monitors the ability of that model to deliver on mission.
- Pursues Excellence: The groundbreaking board never rests on its laurels, but constantly strives to improve itself and the nonprofit it serves.
- Builds the Organization: A groundbreaking board never stands in the way of organization building, in fact they are their nonprofit’s biggest advocates for that critical support.
- Asks Hard Questions: A groundbreaking board understands the harsh realities of the nonprofit sector and is honest and transparent about the state of their nonprofit.
It doesn’t have to be so hard. The nonprofit board can be reinvented and in so doing become a powerhouse for social change.
Photo Credit: haydnseek
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