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Posted on in Fundraising

Someone from the media’s on the phone? The executive director, usually the public face of the organization, speaks with the reporter and shares the ensuing article with board members, supporters, and the like. End of story.

But not always.

When the issue is controversial, behind the executive director must be the board. And it’s the job of the executive director to know when to reach out to the board to think through, as a group, what the organization’s response should be.

The CEO does not stand alone.

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Posted on in Fundraising

My board leans on me for everything” – an oft-heard lament from executive directors.

It’s logical. Board members, knowing the competence of the executive director, simply assume that dynamic leader will let them know when they’re needed. It’s easier to follow their lead.

But executive directors, juggling a million balls in the air, resent that they’re expected to be in charge of the actions of yet another group of responsible adults.

Yet the opposite complaint is true as well: Beware the runaway decisions made by a board acting on its own without any staff members in the room…

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Posted on in Fundraising

Oversight. Management. Hands-on but not Hands-in.

It's a tough relationship to manage, between board members and the executive director.

And the distinction – that the board oversees the executive director, but board members are not an executive director's “boss” – is a tough one.

How do you establish the trust that gives an executive director the autonomy to run a nonprofit without board member interference, yet assures the board that the executive director is managing the agency well?

And, how can you re-establish trust for a board that's micromanaging the executive director on too tight a leash? 

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Hours of finding just the right verb.

Anecdotes, photos, graphics, charts.

The compellingly-presented need. The dramatic longitudinal impact, obtained through impeccable research.

All produced, of course, in color, branded, visually-appealing.

A well-done case statement is indeed a great thing. It walks your organization right in the door, often before you yourself can get there. It intrigues, it impresses, it grabs one by the throat and demands a hearing.

But while a well-done case statement certainly sells, it doesn’t create a market.

And therein lies the rub.

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Posted on in Fundraising

There’s a world of difference between purchasing a service (no matter how satisfied the customer), and making a charitable contribution to help the world experience that activity.

A recent NY Times article on the Y’s new advertising campaign – “Beyond ‘Gym and Swim’” – discusses the public’s misconception about the role of the Y as a health club vs. its mission of community service.

In the case of the Y, this perception results in thousands of dollars in lost fundraising revenue – hence the Y’s new public service campaign, TV ads, digital news spots, etc.

But what are the lessons for the rest of us? 

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