Tag Archives: working with your development director

Statements fund development professionals hate to hear

Part one in a two part series.

congratsDo you wonder why you can’t keep development staff? Maybe it is “their fault.” Or maybe your expectations have people running for the door. Here is a short list of things executive directors and college presidents have been known to say that get development staff running to monster.com. Do you hear yourself in these comments? What can you do to change?

  1. “Let my assistant to arrange a time for us to talk.” This is a favorite because it often takes weeks to secure an appointment.
  2. “Once you have done your homework, call me and I will close the deal.” Does this make any sense? How many nonprofit leaders are so sought after that their presence at the point of solicitation will “close the deal?”
  3. “It’s your job to raise the money.” This belief is a luxury no executive can afford. Regardless the number of development professionals employed, you are the chief fundraiser. Your staff’s ability to raise money requires your active participation.
  4. “I want you to make at least 20 calls a week. Another favorite. Who will your staff call, who will want to talk with them, and what are they calling donors about?
  5. “I want you to chair the homecoming dance committee.” There are many variations on this theme: all pull development staff away from fundraising. Unless there are clear revenue goals keep your development staff out of events.
  6. “Have you asked the board members for their gifts?” Major red flag. Expecting staff to solicit board members is a recipe for low giving. This is the responsibility of the board chair or chair of the board development committee.
  7. “You don’t need to know my travel plans.” This closes the door to fund development and fundraising opportunities. Your staff can suggest visits to current or potential major donors and influencers, help coordinate a friendraiser, or a visit to a foundation or corporation who funds nonprofits similar to yours.

Other favorites include:

  1. “I want you to raise 50% more than you did last year.”
  2. “I’m launching the campaign in spite of what the feasibility study says.”
  3. “We don’t need to be spending money on a feasibility study.”
  4. “I underestimated: we have a short fall of 20% that you will need to raise.”
  5. “I want you to represent me at the chamber meeting.”
  6. “I want you to make the case before the community foundation, I need to be at the Save the Duck conference in Idaho.”
  7. “What should be our fundraising priorities be for this year (this campaign?)”
  8. “Who were our top five donors last year?”
  9. “Send me an email about your fundraising plans.”
  10. “Tell me, who is currently on the development committee.”
  11. “I don’t want you talking to any board members.”
  12. “I need to cut the budget by 10% – that includes your department as well. And I need you to raise an additional 15%.”
  13. “I’m sorry, you will have to host our VIP guests.”
  14. “I think we can do the campaign without an increase in staff or budget.”

Statements like these drive development professionals crazy, contributing to high turnover. If you don’t know why these statements can put your organization or institution at risk ask your development staff. If you’re not that brave, ask a peer who is a successful fundraiser.

Next week: things development professionals say.

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 on Twitter: @saadshaw.


How to use business cards as a prospecting tool

mprove your relationship w your development director: idea for joint prospectingNonprofit CEOs, board chairs, and college presidents are constantly out and about meeting people and picking up business cards. Here’s what we know: you can use those cards to stack the deck in favor of your fundraising success. Business cards also hold the key strengthening your relationship with your development director or vice president for advancement. Our recommendation is tried and true: collect the cards, when you have a moment at the end of the day write short notes about each of your meetings. Send the notes and a photo of the cards back to your staff when you are on the road. Or submit them when back in the office. This gets the names, contact information, and notes about relationships and opportunities into your database. Next step: partnering with your development person.

Call a debriefing session with your development director or vice president. Review each of the business cards you collected. Share with her the key insights you learned from each of your meetings. Working together, prioritize next steps for how to engage each person you met. Some follow up items are simple: sending a report or web resource you discussed; making an introduction; ensuring an invitation to upcoming events is sent. Others are more complex. Perhaps one of the people you met with could assist in evaluating a partnership you want to pursue. Maybe you met a corporate manager who wants to engage her employees in a day of service at your nonprofit. Determine who is responsible for taking the relationship to the next level and by when. Set check-in and follow-up dates with each other and keep them.

This practice gives you a “door opener” for regularly meeting with your development person, a way to be actively engaged with her in developing new relationships and partnerships. You are sharing contacts and information with her – “bringing something to the table” instead of always asking her how much money she has raised. You are increasing the prospects you both can work with, sharing some details of your work, and creating an opportunity for the two of you to strategize together. This process can be a stimulus for new ideas and perspectives. You can work shoulder to shoulder, learning from each other, co-creating goals and opportunities, and making commitments to each other regarding how to follow up with and engage the people you have met. It can energize you, expand your mind-set and help build a culture of fundraising.

Here are two truths about business cards and fundraising: a card can’t open a door if its sitting in a pile on your desk. Your development person can’t turn a pile of cards into relationships. The two of you need to work together, be creative, and follow up.

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 on Twitter: @saadshaw.