It is much, much to easy to dump upon Development Directors in today’s non-profit environment. Yours is an almost impossible job, responsible for Herculean revenue targets but without the authority to set priorities and budgets. Add all the bosses in the form of CEOs and Board Members who are difficult to engage and lead to success, even on the best day, and we wonder why the average tenure for a Development Director is still hanging at around 18 months?
For some perspective on this check out, Wild Woman Fundraising, who has sacrificed economic stability (and the rest of the benefits of full time employment) to be a happy freelancing author and consultant. I made a similar move myself six years, and I cannot say I miss the fundraising office.
So this challenging work. There has been plenty, much, written about the things you Development Directors should be doing – getting out of the office, engaging volunteers, networking endlessly for corporate support, picking up the phone every five minutes, and so on. But what shouldn’t you be spending your time on? What habits and tasks can you drop today to free you to raise some actual cash?
Want to Raise More Money? Start by:
- Getting Off the Damn Internet. We don’t often speak of this, but today’s office culture is a giant time suck of non-productivity, as everyone is screwing around online, all day long. Facebook. Twitter feed. Instagram. Video Games. At work. And don’t even get me started at the chasm of wasted professional energy that is Linked-In. Father Puff Puff tried to link up with me recently. Awesome. Whatever efficiency has come into our professional lives via technology and the internet has been cancelled out by the hours and hours workers spend screwing around on their phones and computers. Stop playing reindeer games on your computer all day long.
- Forgetting About Donor Research. Another classic time wasting exercise in our profession is the search for Capacity in our donors. How much could that Magical Prospect Give to Us? This can lead to an endless chase for clues, including expensive and unproductive wealth screening systems. I found my name in one such expensive system not too long ago. It reported a current marriage from a ten years gone by divorce, board service from the late 90s, and a most recent gift in 2006. I am not a wealthy guy by any means, but this is some nonsense. Instead of seeking out mystical formulas on the capacity of your donors, how about we get to know them personally? The generosity will follow. The rich are getting richer.
- Bagging the Internal Meetings. In you meet with your marketing department more than once a month as a fundraiser, that’s much too much. Skip the meetings. As many as you can. Lie about it if you need to get out of attending. Or, better yet, schedule meetings out of the office. With your donors and prospects. “Do I need to attend that internal meeting?” NO. No, I do not.
- Chasing Small Sums. Grants take much time and energy. Corporate gifts are increasingly competitive. If it isn’t worth your time, don’t go after it. Focus on individual gifts instead. An eight page grant application for $5,000? Why not simply ask five people for $1,000 each? This is the wealthiest moment in the history of the world, and tomorrow will likely be an even wealthier day. Seek the cash.
- Stop Worrying So Much. Yours is such a stressful job, and I am sorry for that. And I see colleagues who are frozen professionally by the demands of the work. Worrying won’t help, not one time.
Breathe. Get off the Internet. Get After It.