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Posted on in Fundraising

What’s the one most powerful indicator of an agency’s ability to make lasting change in its development returns?

I have a surprising answer to that.

You’d think it was the board, or a wealthy founder, or a super-rich patron who takes the agency under his/her wing – but I don’t think those are the factors that lead to real, sustained, institutional fundraising change.

It’s the support and attention of the executive director.

Why do I say that?

Because board members are volunteers.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Six people, soon to become five by attrition, sit around a board table. “There’s so few of us to do the work” one of the members sighs.

The obvious answer? Recruit a couple more people who are inspired by the organization’s work with autistic children and would be honored to be among those responsible for the agency’s well-being.

Yet the board hesitates.

We have to clarify our committee structure...

Our financials look too dicey…

We need to get through a tricky personnel matter…

The people we most need won’t want to join this club.

The rationalizations for inaction go on and on. 

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The charge from the executive director to the board members was daunting, although the intent was to be inspiring: Raise $80,000 from new donors.

Yet instead of rising to the challenge, board members are cowering in their seats.

The scene is reminiscent of a high school classroom where the students aren’t prepared – people sink lower and lower in their chairs, hoping not to be called upon.

How can we turn this around?

How can we transform a board goal into a guiding light, not a looming threat?

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Posted on in Fundraising

Who’ll chair this year’s Annual Barbecue-A-Thon?

When board member Cynthia raises her hand, everyone is grateful, appreciative, and relieved. The matter’s settled till the next year.

NOT.

If the next time you think about fundraising volunteerism is when you need the next hand raised, you’ve lost a real opportunity to get the right person doing the best job.

Nonprofit succession is not just about executive directors, or board chairs. It’s a year-long effort to build an evolving leadership team: a diverse and complimentary lineup of responsible, effective volunteers. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

We spend our nonprofit lives providing service, meeting challenges, pushing for change…and putting out fires.

We juggle, we track, we focus.

We solve what’s in front of us and, if we’re lucky, we get to look around the corner a quarter – or a year – ahead.

But when do we, as nonprofit leaders, get to move beyond the critical-now quadrant, to the key-but-not-pressing arenas?

If not in August – when? 

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