Tag Archives: women in philanthropy and fundraising

Advocacy: critical nonprofit work

StandBesideHer

Stand Beside Her is an example of a new powerful new advocacy campaign launched by Girl Scouts Heart of the South. This national campaign encourages women and girls to support each other. It’s a bold move to reduce comparisons and competition amongst women. The goal: changing our culture so every girl and woman can reach her fullest potential.

There’s something wrong when women are more than 50% of the population and we still ask ourselves “why are women underrepresented in so many aspects of our society?” At a minimum change requires new public policies, new ways of interacting with each other, new roles for men, and a change in consciousness. Stand Beside Her focuses on how we treat each other as women and encourages us to change negative behaviors we have internalized, normalized and may not even be aware of.

This is no small goal. Like most advocacy campaigns it’s about a big vision. It’s right up there with curing HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Securing marriage equality. Eliminating racism.

Here are a few things we learned: 67% of women rate mentorship as highly important in helping to advance and grow their careers, yet 63% of women never has had a formal mentor. 39% of girls have been put down or discouraged when trying to lead. And, 92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with their body weight ranking the highest.

Girls are watching us and listening to us. How do we treat each other? And how do we treat ourselves? Each of us can be part of the solution. Invite a junior colleague for coffee. Introduce something new to your daughter. Create a mentoring program at work. Ensure you are an informed voter. Avoid negative words and phrases. Encourage others through your words. Volunteer and donate to help girls and women.

Advocacy is critical nonprofit work. It advances the work of a nonprofit in ways that direct services can’t. Advocacy opens up our thinking to new perspectives. It encourages those of us who may feel powerless to join together and make our voices heard. It is a way to engage donors in the ongoing work of a nonprofit. It is more than writing a check: it is an opportunity to open our homes to talk about an important issue. It helps build relationships within our community – and nationally. Advocacy makes the case for change. We have the opportunity to tell a compelling story and encourage others to take actions large and small, and to give. Advocacy can open up your nonprofit to energy, something most of us need.

Advocate for girls and women October 25th – 31st. Let’s choose to Stand Beside Her.

Learn more at  www.standbesideher.org

Copyright 2015– Mel and Pearl Shaw

Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.

Social Capital

Patricia Brandes“Trusting relationships and reflection/rejuvenation are required for building strong networks and collaborations.” That’s the word from Patricia Brandes, executive director of the Barr Foundation. She didn’t say more funding, more collaboration, lower expenses or greater impact. She focuses on the three R’s – relationships, reflection and rejuvenation.

We had the opportunity to hear Brandes speak recently, and she encouraged the audience to value “being” as well as “doing”, acknowledging that “doing” is our culture’s more highly prized verb. Focusing on “being vs. doing” she asked “which will really move a nonprofit forward? Which really supports relationships? Where and how is trust built?”

While many funders invest in “doing” the Barr Foundation invests in “being.” It offers local nonprofit leaders the opportunity to answer the above questions through a fellows program Brandes launched in 2005. The Barr Fellowship is a leadership network designed to celebrate, connect, and empower diverse leaders across Boston.

The fellows program provides three-month paid sabbaticals for Boston nonprofit leaders. Each “fellow” can experience the 3 R’s: no work for three months. No calling in, no emails…. The one requirement: participate in two week-long group learning journeys to locations such as South Africa and Zimbabwe, Brazil, and Haiti.

Back at the nonprofit, board members and employees have to operate without their known leader. This provides new opportunities for interim leaders and the Barr Foundation helps out here too, providing these leaders with peer support and facilitated learning environments. The foundation has found that employees and board members step up in unexpected ways while their leader is on sabbatical.

This fellows program is an example of what Brandes calls “creative disruption.” A sabbatical is highly prized – but awfully disruptive! No more business as usual for the nonprofit, and even more importantly, for the leader. When on sabbatical leaders confront “being” as their primary experience. This often leads to personal discovery and recommitment to what brought them to work in the nonprofit sector in the first place. The group learning journeys take this change process to another level, bringing leaders together across differences and boundaries. As they share time unstructured time together fellows have the opportunity to “be” together and in that process build trust. These trusting relationships later inform new and deeper levels of partnership and collaboration.

Over time the deep value of this fellowship expresses itself. Boston now has a rich network of diverse leaders who have sustained relationships over the years, built social capital, and remained in the nonprofit sector. The foundation found that five years after their sabbatical, 75% of fellow were still at their organizations, 92% were still active in the civic sector in Boston, and 92% were still active in the civic sector nationally.

The results are radically different from the turnover and burnout experienced within many nonprofits. Investment anyone?

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

The Power of Women Fundraisers

 Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art. Fundraising Role Model.

Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Fundraising Role Model.

Women are role models in so many sectors of our economy, and the nonprofit sector is no exception. In honor of women’s history month we salute women who step up to the challenge of raising money for nonprofit organizations and institutions they believe in. Their leadership and vision impact the lives of individuals, families, communities, regions and our nation as a whole.

We want to encourage more women to become fundraisers, and to grow their fund development capabilities. We want women to seek fundraising positions at the highest levels, and to inspire their peers to join them.

We share with you the characteristics we have observed amongst successful women fundraisers. The following are by no means definitive, or exclusive: they are simply based on our observations over the years.

First and foremost successful women fundraisers are not afraid to ask. They are fearless in asking for money, resources, guidance, help and time. They are confident in who they are as a person, and are not intimidated by people of power, wealth and influence. They are risk takers who are not afraid to fail. At the same time they always have a “plan b” and a “plan c” in case their original plan falters.

Speaking of plans, they are big on planning. They pay attention to detail, and they excel at follow-through. They are well prepared, and don’t “wing it.” They are collaborators who look for opportunities that will advance their donors, board members and volunteers.

They truly like people and seek to bring people together to advance organizations they believe in. When they bring people together they know how to manage them, how to bring out their best talents and abilities. Their passion is real: it’s not something they are paid to project. Rather, their leadership springs from their belief in the mission and vision of the organizations they are involved with.

Talented fundraisers we have known are listeners. They are willing – and able – to listen more than they talk. On the whole, they live a balanced lifestyle and are energized: they exude an energy you can feel. They attend to their physical and emotional health knowing that doing so gives them an edge. They are big on professional development and growth for themselves and the teams they manage. They are not satisfied with current success.

They have no problem sharing the limelight. They are willing to take a back seat and let others enjoy the limelight, for they know that their success lies in donors and volunteers giving and giving generously. They love the challenges of fundraising, and have no issues talking about money. They understand that they are facilitators and not the focal point. Successful fundraisers are valued and in high demand. They orchestrate leadership teams who secure the money and resources that bring the visions of nonprofits to life. We salute you!

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.”  They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them @saadshaw.

Be Loud and Proud for More Business

In case you didn’t know, March is Women’s History month. We know women make history each day as fundraisers, philanthropists, businesswomen, volunteers, artists… We make history every day in every realm. To celebrate women business owners we asked Caterina Rando, a talented business coach and entrepreneur for her observations.

LoudAndProudThere are two very different and distinct groups of people: the Loud and Proud and the Keep it Quiet.

The Loud and Proud business go out of their way to meet people, share their expertise, speak, write and let people know what they do and the value they bring. They are friendly, always wear a smile, always look good because they are dressed for an insta-connection, a chance meeting or an unplanned conversation with a new potential donor at any moment.

Then there are the Keep it Quiets. They do not go out of their way to meet new people or to let people know about the value they bring. When asked what they do they do not respond succinctly with clarity and confidence.

Do you say you want to accomplish more in private and yet you are quiet about the value you bring to your potential clients/donors in public online and off?

Whatever your answer here are a few more things you can do to proclaim to the world that you are loud and proud and you have value to bring.

  1.  Your phone message enthusiastically talks about your business/mission and the value you bring.
  2.  Your email signature includes your phone number, email and website and any special events or promotions you are currently offering.
  3.  You are loud and proud about the value you bring on your Facebook and LinkedIn. You post your successes and those of your clients.
  4.  *You host your own events to connect with your clients, potential clients and community to provide them some value and connect with them live and in person.
  5.  You host a free webinar or teleclass regularly to share your value with new people and grow your list.
  6.  You write regularly of online or offline publications, you proliferate your articles and keep up with your blog. More importantly you get the word out about it.

Now that you have gotten some ideas ask yourself what you are going to do to be more loud and proud. The louder and prouder you are about the value you bring the more your business will thrive!

Caterina Rando’s life work is showing entrepreneurs how to be loud and proud about who they are and the value they bring. She shares ways to build a thriving business using public speaking, getting published and building your expert platform.

Download your free audio on How to Be A Sought After Speaker at http://www.soughtafterspeaker.com. Caterina can be reached at Cat@caterinarando.com or by phone at 415 668-4535.

Cause Marketing: Grocery Shopping for Good

Women's FoundationHow do you say thank you? For this column we look to the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis for an example. They thank their supporters with a Kroger gift card, preloaded with five dollars. Shoppers take the card Kroger, add their grocery money to the card, do their shopping, pay for their groceries with the card, and then Kroger sends the Women’s Foundation five percent of what supporters spend using the gift card. Five percent. That’s a lot. And, supporters can reload their card over and over again, using it to buy groceries, gas and pharmacy items throughout the year. With every dollar spent five cents goes to the Women’s Foundation. It adds up quickly.

KrogerThis is a great example of what we refer to as a mutually beneficial cause marketing program. It builds loyalty amongst supporters of the Women’s Foundation who are also Kroger’s shoppers. It creates a revenue stream for the Women’s Foundation. It provides Kroger with an opportunity to provide funding to an organization their shoppers support. Everybody wins. Grocery shopping suddenly has a new meaning and a new impact

Wanting a “behind the scenes” look we asked Tracy Burgess, Development Manager at the Women’s Foundation how the program is working. She let us know they are promoting the cards with the slogan Buy Now Give Now. “We wanted to focus on giving something to the people of Memphis that will allow each to be a philanthropist. In this economy the gift card gives everyone a way to give even though their own budgets may be tight. It expands the definition of what it means to be a philanthropist.”

Burgess also mentioned that staff are recording the names and email addresses of people they give a gift card to so they can be sure to follow up and let participants know how their use of the card is impacting the Foundation’s work. You know we like to hear that – at the end of the day it is all about stewardship. Saying “thank you” over and over again.

Think about your organization and the people it touches. Think about businesses with shared values. Think creatively about how each can benefit the other and the community. Write up your ideas. Talk with the leadership of your proposed cause marketing partner and see what you can create together that generates benefits for your community. When done right cause marketing programs can build customer loyalty for a business, a revenue stream for a non-profit, and a new way for current – or new donors – to provide financial support during challenging times.

© 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

THE ROLE OF THE BUSINESS PLAN: Benefits of Using a Business Plan

Part three of three

Dr. Jan Young

Dr. Jan Young

In our last two posts, we’ve shared with you the wisdom of Dr. Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, about the development of business plans for non-profits. Here, we asked her to provide examples of how a business plan can impact an organization’s success.

Jan told us the story of an organization that “was limited in spite of successful outcomes serving individuals with significant needs in a challenging environment. Although they have a charismatic leader, diligent board and a clear focus on their mission, it was difficult to inspire donors to make the substantial investments necessary for growth.”

Seed MoneySo, the group decided to create a business plan. “After completing their plan and being able to explain their various programs and services with greater clarity, they were able to get some seed funds for an ambitious effort to expand their services,” she said. “After demonstrating their ability to implement the initial phases of their business plan, they have successfully attracted other funders and have been able to leverage investments made in their collaborative partnerships.”

Jan also shared how the absence of a business plan contributed to the demise of another organization, which had “lost sight of its mission, started chasing money even when grant conditions conflicted and created costs beyond what the grants and fundraising would cover. Funds were inappropriately allocated, they lost credibility with funders, deceived board members, and they no longer exist,” she said.

“Although there were obviously things other than the absence of a business plan that led to this outcome, a review of the plan with the budget may have alerted board members earlier about the obvious discrepancies between what they were being told and what was actually happening at the organization,” she said.

Jan, who received a doctorate of nursing science from the University of Tennessee, has enjoyed a distinguished career in education, health care, the military and philanthropy, and she offers a unique perspective on some of the challenges facing non-profits. “One of the nuns I worked with in the past used to say, ‘No margin, no mission,’” she said.

In other words, “Passion and sheer force of will is rarely sustainable over time. Finite resources are a reality. Sometimes we must make tough choices about a priority. If something has value only to one person or a small group but is not perceived to have equivalent value by others or even the people being served, that becomes a situation of service to self rather than service to others,” she said.

Jan recommends several resources, including the Alliance for NonProfit Excellence, the National Council of Nonprofits,  the Free Management Library, and BridgeSpan.

To learn more about the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, visit www.assisifoundation.org.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl 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.

BUSINESS PLANNING FOR NON-PROFITS – Learn the Basics

Part two of three

Dr. Jan Young

Dr. Jan Young

Previously, Dr. Jan Young explained how creating a business plan can help non-profit organizations assess their capacity, strategy and potential funding sources. Here she discusses the basics of creating a plan.

In her role as executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Jan oversees philanthropic activities, management, community relations, and strategic direction, and has reviewed countless grant applications. She revealed that one component of a successful application is a budget that matches with an organization’s objectives and capacity. A well-developed business plan can help organizations achieve such cohesion.

According to Jan, a business plan should be the work of an organization’s executive team and board. It should include input from internal stakeholders across the organization. The plan may cover any period of time the organization chooses, but “it should be reviewed on an ongoing basis and revised as necessary. Most cover three to five years. The plan should be a dynamic tool that informs and guides their work and progress,” she said.

We know that the process of creating a business plan can feel overwhelming in light of all the responsibilities an organization faces each day. The amount of time it takes for a non-profit to create a plan depends on how long it takes to complete an assessment of the organization’s ability to deliver services and raise funds, its current and future role in the community, and its overall goals.

“The number of pages depends on the scope and complexity of the organization’s mission,” said Jan. “Keep it simple. One size does not fit all. There are actually one-page templates that some have found helpful, and a book written on one-page business plans for non-profits. The length is less important than the quality. And the quality is sometimes less important than the conscious, deliberate use of the plan.”

We also wanted to learn Jan’s thoughts on the role of the board when it comes to implementation. For example, does the board take on a different role when an organization is working from a business plan?

“The board is accountable for governance, counsel, and has a key fundraising role. When operating from a business plan (properly written), they can more easily help the executive director and staff revise strategies and make the decisions necessary to assure the mission can be supported,” said Jan. “Sometimes the discussions can become more objective in nature. While passion for the work is important, emotional support alone cannot sustain the organization’s staff to effectively accomplish the mission.”

Next, Dr. Jan Young discusses the benefits of using a business plan.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl 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.

THE ROLE OF THE BUSINESS PLAN: An Interview with Dr. Jan Young

Part one of three

Dr. Jan Young

One of the prerequisites for fundraising success is a fund development or fundraising plan that is tied to an organization’s strategic plan. While strategic planning has a long history within the non-profit sector, some organizations are now choosing to work from a business plan. Wanting to learn more, we reached out to Dr. Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, a health care legacy foundation that has awarded more than $150 million in grants.

A strong advocate of working from a business plan, Jan believes that “strategy without resources is a wish.” When reviewing grant applications, she has found many budgets incongruent with the goals, objectives or capacity of the organizations. “In basic terms, the math doesn’t work,” she said.

Working from a business plan can help an organization focus its resources, build toward sustainability and support successful fundraising. A business plan requires an organization to engage in the important task of assessing its capacity to deliver services (and raise funds!), as well as assessing the environment in which it works and the extent to which the services (or advocacy) it offers are needed.

But, we tend to hear more about strategic planning in the non-profit sector, and business planning for the private sector. Asked about the difference between the two, Jan explained, “Here’s what we typically see: Strategic plans have a greater focus on direction and tactics, and business plans have a greater focus on specific necessary resources, primarily sources and uses of funds, and sustainability.”

Over the years we have noticed that many strategic plans do not take into consideration where the money for the work will come from. Often we are brought in to help secure funds for priorities that have not been vetted by the appropriate individuals, foundations or granting agencies.

Jan recommended a correctly done assessment as one way to evaluate potential funding. Ask questions such as: What is the need? Who else is providing the same or similar services? What are the opportunities and challenges? To whom does it matter? (What is your value proposition?) If the non-profit ceased to exist tomorrow, would anyone notice?

Jan also suggested taking the time to address basic organizational questions. “In the simplest terms: Can the organization clearly state what it wants to do?” she asked. “What strategies does it wish to implement to achieve what it wants to do? Does it have the resources and assets such as people, time, facilities or equipment, partnerships and funding to implement the strategies? Can the organization define how it will know if it is making progress toward its goals? What will success look like?”

Next, Dr. Jan Young discusses how to create a business plan.

© Copyright Mel and Pearl 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.

Ruby Bright honored as leader in women’s funding movement

Ruby Bright

Ruby Bright

When women achieve economic security, they spread their success to their children, community and country.

When women help other women, everyone benefits.

These truths have only recently gained the international attention of economists and philanthropists, but members of the women’s funding movement have promoted them for many years.

One of these pioneers, Ruby Bright, was recently honored for her efforts to improve the lives of women and their children, both in the Memphis community and across the globe.

Bright received the Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award from the Women’s Funding Network on April 8 during the group’s annual conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. The award is presented annually to individuals, funds and foundations that have demonstrated a commitment to gender equity, diversity and social justice through philanthropy.

Bright has made “profound and influential contributions” to the women’s funding movement and “has been instrumental in bringing change to the Greater Memphis area and beyond,” wrote Ana Oliveira and Christine Grumm, board chair and president/CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, which represents more than 160 women’s funds across six continents.

As the executive director and chief administrative officer of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis (WFGM), Bright has increased grant distribution by more than 300 percent over the last decade. Since 1995, the WFGM has awarded $5 million to 330 programs and 120 grantee agencies.

Starting in 2004, Bright has led a groundbreaking public-private partnership between the WFGM, the city of Memphis and the Memphis Housing Authority to support mixed-income housing and urban revitalization. Under Bright’s leadership, more than $7 million has been raised for the Memphis HOPE project, targeting 700 former public housing residents. The WFGM is the first women’s fund to lead such a program and now serves as a national model for success.

The WFGM’s mission is to encourage philanthropy, foster leadership among women and enable women and children to reach their full potential. Bright, who has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit operations management, marketing and fund development, plays a vital role in spreading this mission to a broad audience and demonstrating the power of women helping women.

The core values promoted by Bright and the WFGM have universal applications, far beyond Memphis, or even the United States. “Collectively, economically secure women create secure nations and a more stable globe,” explained the Women’s Funding Network.

As an extension of her commitment to women’s empowerment, Bright is involved with numerous national and local civic organizations. From 2008 to 2010, she served as the board chair of the Women’s Funding Network. She is a founding member of the Black Women Donor Action Group and the Women’s Economic Security Campaign.

Bright has been honored by the Memphis Urban League, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of the Mid-South, Leadership Memphis and many other groups. In 2006, the WFGM was named the MPACT Memphis Foundation of the Year.

Learn more about the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis and the Women’s Funding Network.

Stepping Up In time of Change

Managing Change
When its time for a change at the top…

 What would you do if your executive director unexpectedly left? Who would fill her shoes? Whether an executive transition is planned or unexpected, it is the role of an interim executive director to provide leadership.

Knowing that change is a constant in life, and in leadership, we talked with Chiquita Tuttle to learn more about the role of interim executive directors. Tuttle is an experienced interim executive director, so she knows all about change. She has worked with diverse organizations providing leadership and management during times of transition.

Saad & Shaw: What are some scenarios in which an organization needs to hire an interim executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: Interim executive directors are usually called into an organization when there is some form of transition taking place. It may be the sudden loss of an executive director, the firing of an executive director, or an anticipated transition.

Saad & Shaw: What are typical key responsibilities of an interim executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: Overall leadership and management of the organization; working with the management team; maintaining and rebuilding external relationships with funders; maintaining service delivery and client focus; and representing the agency in public forums are all key responsibilities.

Saad & Shaw: What is the role of the Board in working with an interim executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: The Board has an absolute obligation to work with the interim executive director to assure that their expectations and the scope of work specified in the contract they have made are being met. Open communication and transparency are critical to a successful transition.

Saad & Shaw: What should a Board expect when working with an interim executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: The Board can expect the interim executive director to be less involved in the daily political aspects of the agency. The interim executive director will be reviewing the operations and management with an external lens and making decisions based on his or her experience. The Board should be supportive of those decisions given the appropriate rationale and background. In some cases the interim executive director will tend to be a bit more assertive if he or she is there to implement a new direction for the agency.

Saad & Shaw:  How is an interim executive director evaluated?

Chiquita Tuttle: An interim executive director should be evaluated on the completion of the scope of work initially discussed and contracted for. In addition, the interim executive director should be evaluated on the relationship and respect developed among the staff as well as external clients such as funders, clients, partnerships, and collaborators.

Saad & Shaw: What have you noticed is the difference between a planned transition in executive leadership vs. a crisis transition? How does this affect the work of an interim executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: Whether the interim executive director takes the role in a transition process or a crisis situation, the goals are the same. Management and leadership of the agency are primary. Being transparent and communicating with staff is critical. Working with the Board to keep them apprised of goals, objectives and decisions is paramount. Building trust and credibility will ensure a smooth transition in any circumstance. Also, this will determine how long the interim serves. Typically, interim executive director assignments range from 3 months to 18 months.

Saad & Shaw: We have noticed that some interim executive director’s fall into the “caretaker” model and some are brought in as “change agents.” Would you share your experience and perspective on these two different roles for an interim executive director and how a person serving as an interim executive director knows which role she is expected to fulfill?

Chiquita Tuttle: The caretaker role usually occurs when the current executive director has left the organization and the Board is engaged in a search for a permanent director. In this instance, the interim executive director is simply there to “hold down the fort” until that search is completed. That means working with existing staff, making sure the day to day operations are being enacted and clients are being served. Leadership, respect and managing are key elements where the interim executive director must take the lead.

If the interim executive director is hired to be a change agent, he or she will usually be charged with changing specific operations, policies, attitudes, expectations and/or accountability within the organization. This involves the participation and buy-in of the existing management team. In some instances, changes in the composition of the management team may have to be made. This kind of change is called for when systems and policies have not been working. Change agents are required when staff is not meeting goals, expectations and deliverables.

Then the interim becomes the enforcer of a new mind set and has the challenge of engaging staff to understand the rationale behind the change and acceptance of it. The interim executive director will need the assistance of change agents within the organization in making and taking the new direction. This process is often difficult, to say the least, because change is difficult. It can put staff in an uncomfortable situation; people may feel threatened and resist change.

When instituting change, it is always best to communicate the “situation at hand,” provide the rationale for the change and then implement the change. When staff fully understands the ramifications or consequences of not changing, they are oftentimes more accepting of change and will get on board. There will always be some resistance, but sometimes changes must be made.

Saad & Shaw: What are the ideal characteristics of an interim executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: An ideal interim executive director is a good listener, an innovator, excellent leader, open to ideas, flexible, transparent, accountable, human, has superb relationship and management skills, understands how to deal with conflict, and knows how to build strong teams. They must be a good communicator because they are the messenger of good and bad news.

Most importantly the interim executive director understands that it is the staff that makes the agency’s culture and provides the service; therefore an ideal interim executive director should always acknowledge and thank the staff for their expertise and work.

Saad & Shaw: When hiring an interim executive director should an organization hire an experienced executive director who is currently between positions or should they look for someone experienced in serving as an interim executive director? In other words, how is an experienced interim executive director different from an experienced executive director?

Chiquita Tuttle: An interim executive director has the luxury, if you will, of having to “hit the ground running” in a variety of organizational types. Therefore, their advantage is their flexibility skill set.

An executive director in between jobs also comes to the table with a wealth of long standing experience that becomes valuable to any agency.

Experience in leadership, management and accountability are really what matters. Whether they got it in previous executive director jobs or as an interim executive director matters less.

Saad & Shaw: Have you noticed differences in the requirements of the executive director across organizational types – for example museums, vs. higher education vs. community organizations?

Chiquita Tuttle: Clearly, having expertise in an industry is a strong case, but in the non-profit world, being a generalist is also important. One can learn over time about an industry. It is the management skill set and the knowledge of the fund development process that non-profits look for. All organizations want to be led by someone who understands sustainability, financial viability, good stewardship, strong staffing and, at the end of the day, isproviding for the clients according to their mission statement and vision. Leadership and managerial skill sets are transferable.

Saad & Shaw: Any last thoughts or guidance for our readers?

Chiquita Tuttle: Being an interim executive director is a special niche. It is challenging and difficult at times to gain trust within the agency. We should not be viewed as the “hatchet” person, but should be accepted as vital leadership whose responsibility is to sustain the organization.

It is our responsibility to review current practices, question them and make recommendations for more effective delivery of services. It is always our goal to leave the agency in a healthier and more stable state than when we first arrived.

Chiquita Tuttle is a member of the Saad & Shaw team. She serves as the West Coast Director of Fund Development Services.