Have you heard this before: “We’ll hire the right person and they will raise the money.” Hmmm…. If only fundraising were so simple. Here’s a short list of problems associated with this perspective. First, the board is ultimately responsible for fundraising and needs to be engaged at all times. Then there’s the issue of how to identify, hire, manage and retain experienced fundraisers. Let’s not forget the adage “people give to people” which includes peer-to-peer fundraising.
While fundraising staff cannot go it alone, there is plenty they can and should focus on. Their number one priority is to support and supplement the fundraising work of board members and volunteers. Fundraising professionals are actually volunteer managers who identify, motivate and support the work of volunteers. They have strong people skills.
As a means of supporting volunteers, staff develop materials that “make the case” for giving to your organization. They develop and manage the fundraising plan, organizing the work of volunteers, employees and others. Working closely with the CEO and chair of the development committee, they keep the board up-to-date on fundraising successes, challenges, and opportunities.
They also maintain accurate information on current and prospective donors, produce reports that show funds raised from different sources using different methods; manage online and direct mail campaigns; write proposals and submit reports to funders; send thank you notes and gift receipts; and manage special events.
Fundraising staff are responsible for building infrastructure and capacity. They help ensure marketing and communications tie to fundraising, and, as appropriate, help develop cause marketing programs and donor benefit packages. They focus on fundraising all day, every day.
Finally, here are some things to consider. Demand for experienced fundraisers is greater than the supply. Many individuals have experience in one or two aspects of fundraising, but may not have experience with the methods your organization uses. Staff need to be managed by the executive director. They need to have measurable goals they can reference when allocating their time on a daily or weekly basis. “Raising enough money to cover the budget” is not an adequate goal and will not ensure the financial health of your organization. We recommend goals such as “prepare for and facilitate six meetings with fundraising volunteers” or “identify 30 new prospective donors who can give $1,000 or more” or “working with board members identify three local businesses interested in pursuing a cause marketing program.”
When hiring, consider people new to fundraising with successful sales experience. Many understand the identification, cultivation, solicitation, stewardship cycle and are experienced meeting goals. Always allocate time for staff to attend meetings or conferences of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and for other training and networking opportunities.
© Copyright Saad & Shaw. Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help non-profit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.