At a recent event, a senior staff member was trying to introduce me to someone. “This is Xan, she’s our…. I’m not sure what it is Xan does, hahaha”

Well, for one thing I’m the one raising the money that pays your salary, you putz.

To some extent I’ll excuse him, as I’m what might be generously described as a “staff consultant” in that I have many privileges of staff like a key to the washroom and a log-in password, but I work primarily from home and I bill them– I’m not on payroll. (That way they don’t have to pay for my health care, but that’s another whole rant).

What the remark illuminated was what I think of as the “culture of giving” that is badly lacking in many small nonprofits. Often, fundraising is segregated, denigrated, bowdlerized, and scattered among departments. As my friend Pamela Grow points out small nonprofits often don’t support continuing education or technology upgrades, restrict development staff access to donors and board, and resist risk and innovation.

Ghettoizing your development staff has the effect of senior staff, even in an organization like this one, with only 7 staff members, not understanding what exactly the development staff does.

Here are some things that small non-profits can do not only so that they are supporting their fundraising efforts, but so that development is an integral part of  mission.

Speaking of mission
Include development in the mission. It’s all very well to cure world hunger, but you’re not going to do it without finding the resources you need to achieve that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mission that addressed this. Language like “to find the human, financial, and physical resources to….” would go a long way to giving everyone in an organization a stake in raising the money that makes the mission possible. Your development staff is (or should be) as committed to the mission as the program staff in the trenches and the program staff quite literally couldn’t do it without them.

Integrate your staff and your planning
While senior development staff routinely is included in staff meetings and plans, I’ve rarely seen truly integrated annual plans. The occasional organization manage to get their marketing and development plans in synch, but at only one organization of the many I’ve worked with has the Executive Director figured out that program plans also need to be in synch with development efforts.

Budget realistically
This includes realistic goals and the financial resources to achieve it. Further, when you’re writing your budget, remember that gifts aren’t what I call “plug money”– the number you back into after taking all your earned income into account. “Oh, we need $150,000 and we’ll earn $40,000, so our fundraising goal is $110,000.” Your fundraising goal is the amount you can realistically raise from the resources at hand, including 20% to 25% to pay for the effort. If that’s not enough to pay for your programs, adjust the programs downward, not the fundraising goal upwards.

What are you doing to make sure that everyone knows what “development” is? How do integrate development into program?

Advertisements