Friday, February 15, 2013

Is your Development Director on the way out?

Most Development Directors from organizations with budgets under $5 million plan to leave their jobs within two years. YIKES! A new research project, "UNDERDEVELOPED: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising," by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund describes a vicious cycle that impedes nonprofits' ability to raise financial resources.

Too often, the authors find, ED's and Boards of Directors pin fundraising responsibility solely on the shoulders of their Development Director without establishing fundamental conditions for their success. This research study is a great source of discussion for all of us who care about philanthropy.

In my work sourcing and placing development professionals, I help ED's and board members understand their shared role in fund development, and I coach new Development Directors in developing their skills, plans, and systems that demonstrate competence.

A personal comment...

When I launched my philanthropy consulting firm, I was invited to join a board of directors of a prestigious nonprofit organization. After spending years on the inside knowing what board members should be doing, I jumped at the chance to lead by example. The problem was, I couldn't understand the strategic direction of the organization, and I didn't trust the staff. Although I truly intended to be the best board member I could be, there was no way I was going put my reputation on the line.

That was my a-ha moment.

Board members not only need to internalize the mission and strategic direction of the organization, they need to TRUST the Development Director to be respectful of their contacts, to follow-up in a timely and professional way, and to lead them (as volunteers) on a path to success in raising resources.

So, when I hear about disengaged boards, my inclination is to develop internal staff competencies first in order to create trusting relationships with board members. Those relationships are a big part of the proof that donors need prior to making philanthropic gifts.

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