Part two of a two-part series
Whether you are a new or experienced nonprofit executive director, there is always more to learn in the area of fundraising. Sometimes the responsibilities can feel overwhelming. In order to help keep you focused and engaged, we suggest three actions: raise money, develop and use a fundraising plan, and build a circle of advisors. These will help you grow as a leader and will increase your confidence and ability as a fundraiser.
Three actions to take as a nonprofit executive director or CEO
- Raise money. Your most important job as the CEO of your organization is to raise money for the sustainability and growth of your organization. One important way that you do this is by identifying, cultivating and soliciting major gifts and grants. Schedule your time so you have at least three to five meetings or phone conversations with those who are financially supporting your organization or who can provide major support. Take an active role in securing gifts from the top 20% of your donors – those who can and do give at the highest levels. Know what you need and ask for it in the appropriate way at the appropriate time. This includes asking for introductions to those who can give and ask others to join them in doing so. It also includes actively managing your development team – both staff and volunteers. Bottom line: we recommend you devote 50% or more of your time to the many facets of fundraising.
- Develop and use a fundraising plan. While you are not the person to develop the plan, you need to be part of the team that reviews and finalizes it. Your contributions include recommended fundraising priorities, and the amount of money that needs to be raised for each. As you review the plan your staff proposes, look to ensure that diverse revenue streams are included: your nonprofit should not become dependent on foundation or government funding, or even on special event revenue. Make sure that individual giving is included and that small and large gifts are part of the plan. Meet consistently with your volunteers and staff to motivate, educate, support, and provide guidance and acknowledgement of their efforts. Take time during these meetings to talk strategy: who is the right person to cultivate a donor; who is the right person to make the ask? Request weekly reports showing funds raised and pledged, as well as donors identified and solicited.
- Build a circle of advisors. Ensure you are surrounded by people who can help you. Identify those who can guide you and provide the necessary information (and resources) to grow and sustain your fundraising program. These can include an executive of a similar organization in a different community, local political leaders, a business person, financial expert, faith leader, attorney, activist or a lobbyist. Get to know reporters and editors; develop a relationship with a marketing and public relations firm. Stay in touch with these people and ask for help when you need it. No one can go it alone!
Copyright 2019 – Mel and Pearl Shaw
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