How do you rate your nonprofit CEO? Are they committed to the organization, or do their actions make them appear as if they are “just dating?” If you are a board member or nonprofit fundraiser you don’t want to be blindsided by a CEO who doesn’t know what “commitment” looks like.
This is the time when nonprofits enter the throes of year-end fundraising. Yes, we know it is nowhere near December, but those with experience understand there is a lot of work to be done to secure year-end gifts, especially those from individuals. And this year it may be harder than earlier years: As reported by the Lily Family School of Philanthropy “Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $319.04 billion, declining 6.4 percent in 2022 (a decline of 13.4 percent, adjusted for inflation).” Be prepared for challenges.
What should you and your team do? Start crying? Pray for a miracle? Maybe. But here’s another suggestion: make sure the top leader in your organization is focused on fundraising. Sit down with this person to review fundraising goals and reports and let them know their help is needed. If you are the top leader, take the following suggestions to heart.
Maybe you were misled. The head of a nonprofit is also the “chief fundraising officer.” This may not have been included in the job description, but it’s true. The buck stops with the board and you are the one they turn to when the numbers look funny. As an organizational leader you need to allocate 50% of your time to fundraising. You may feel that you don’t have 50% to give to fundraising, but it’s the cost of staying in business. If you’re committed….
Here’s how to step up. First, you’re up to the challenge. Especially if you work closely with your development team. Meet regularly with a defined agenda and have members report on what they said they would do. That includes you. You must demonstrate transparency and accountability: When you agree to visit a donor, set the appointment and make the visit. Then let people know what happened. Create shared responsibility for meeting fundraising goals: Look at the numbers every week and don’t “assume” that because someone submitted a proposal or made a solicitation that funding is coming your way. No one gets funded all the time. Have a plan B and C, just in case…
What else? Spend time with stakeholders talking about your organization’s work and exploring partnership and funding opportunities. Set aside time to cultivate and solicit those who can make the largest gifts. These may be prior-year donors, or families or businesses who are new to your organization. Host awareness events such as a house party, an open-house, public talks, podcasts and more. Ask your board members to do the same. Everyone should be telling the story of your organization and why it is important. Make sure you know how much money you need to raise and what the impact will be. Remember: you’re not “just dating,” you’re committed. CEOs, your continuing engagement with your development team signals your relationship status.
Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. No need for a conference to learn with us! Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727 or visit www.saadandshaw.com.