At a workshop the other day, participants were asked to describe their management styles. Are you consensus-driven or top-down, permissive or autocratic? The way the question was posed implies that management flows in just one direction, from manager to employee. But most development professionals know they need to engage people across the entire organization and at every level. So don’t we need different styles depending on whom and what we’re managing?
The plain fact is we don’t manage associates the same way we manage directors. And we don’t manage board chairs the way we manage interns. Different positions require different approaches. So before we talk about ‘style,’ let me propose thinking about ‘direction:’ up, down, and sideways -- and suggest developing a separate management approach for each. Read more.
At a workshop I attended the other day, participants were asked to describe their management style. Are you consensus-driven or top-down, permissive or autocratic? The way the question was posed implies that management flows in just one direction, from manager to employee. But most development professionals know they need to engage people across the entire organization and at every level. So don’t we need different styles depending on whom and what we’re managing?
The plain fact is we don’t manage associates the same way we manage directors. And we don’t manage board chairs the same way we manage interns. Different positions require different approaches. So before we talk about ‘style,’ let me propose thinking about ‘direction’ -- up, down, and sideways -- and suggest developing a separate management approach for each.
Let’s start with managing ‘up’ -- namely your boss. This is all about positioning yourself as an indispensable member of the team and getting your boss to do things for you.
No. 1: Be in synch with your boss. One way you can do this is by making her priorities your own. Make it a point to understand your boss’ short- and long-term goals. What tasks need to be done right now? What impact does she want the organization to have five years down the road? It might be growth or stability, or a combination of both. There's usually a policy agenda, but what’s driving the agenda -- fairness, equality, safety, accountability? Once you understand her priorities, keep them front and center – post them in your office and make sure your actions advance those priorities.
No. 2: Another way to understand your boss is to watch for pressure points. Are there certain situations where you notice the tension-meter rising? Perhaps a particular board member calls or a finance committee is coming up? If you watch and understanding these dynamics, you can adjust your interactions accordingly. You don't want to adding to the pressure. Be supportive and wait for the right moment. It will go a long way to helping you be successful.
No. 3: Remember your boss is a busy person. There are a lot of people competing for her attention. You need to develop strategies to ‘cut through the noise’ of her schedule. Face-time is critical for maintaining a good relationship, so establish a regular weekly meeting to go over projects, provide an update on fundraising, report on new trends, and talk about budget and personnel changes. Try to pick a time that’s unlikely to draw conflicts and cancellations, so early morning or late afternoon. It’s probably best to stay away from the busy hours of 10 am to 4 pm.
No. 4: When you do have a meeting, make it both easy and rewarding. Send an agenda in advance, cover the most pressing issues first, and wrap up on time. Your boss – and everyone else -- will dread meeting with you if you’re unprepared, disorganized, or drone on about old business. And bring good news. No matter how bad it gets, find something positive to report about your department. Direct mail down? Talk about online giving. Fewer donors? Talk about increased average gift. Turned down for a grant? Bring 10 more prospects. Also plan to use this time to get what you need to succeed in your job. Do you want your boss to make thank you calls to donors, meet with a program officer, approve a new staff position? Use every trick: cajole, compliment, and persist.
No. 5: Finally, when asked to do something, always say yes. Don’t try to rationalize saying no by claiming you have no time or you don’t have enough staff. Your boss took those factors into consideration. She asked you for a reason; she thinks you’re the best person to do the job. So be happy she has confidence in your abilities and just say yes.
There’s more to managing 'up' than we can cover in one blog, but these are good starters for making interactions with your boss go more smoothly. Next week, we’ll talk about managing ‘down’—that traditional understanding of management-- your direct reports.
Blue Strike offers free and low-cost resources to help you handle a range of common tasks found in the development office. From tip sheets and suggested resources to free webinars and research reports, we provide timely information you can put to use right away. In addition to materials intended for a general audience, our services include customized staff and board training, executive mentoring, strategic planning, and transition services.
Designed for the busy fundraising professional, our free slideshows feature field-tested practices and time-saving techniques to help you manage your daily tasks. The slide decks from all previous webinars are posted on our website and free to download. We hope you'll find them useful and even share with volunteers and staff.
Recapturing Lapsed Donors
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015 at 01:15 PM ET
Fundraising Webinar: We start with 10 of the most common reasons donors stop giving and describe how understanding those reasons will help you prioritize your list of "lost" or lapsed donors. We outline several cost-effective approaches you can implement right now to bring those donors back on board. This 45-minute webinar is designed as an interactive session and is limited to 25 participants. View the recording. Download the slides.
Charity Watchdogs: Managing Your Organization's Profile and Ranking
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 1:15 PM ET
Fundraising Webinar: Potential donors check out your organization through charity watchdogs like Better Business Bureau, Guidestar, Charity Navigator and others. Research shows they're having an impact on donor behavior. Learn where the "watchdogs" get their information, how they assess their rankings and what you can do to improve your profile and ranking.
Five Simple Ways to Upgrade Your Donors
Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 1:15 PM ET
Fundraising Webinar: Take a look at the latest research on popular upgrade strategies including conditional ask strings; second-gift approaches; lists and recognition levels; challenge campaigns; and sustaining gifts. Implementing just one of these low- and no-cost strategies will generate more dollars for your organization.
How Affinity Groups Build Donor Loyalty
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 1:15 PM ET
Fundraising Webinar: A growing number of organizations are using giving clubs and affinity groups to build donor loyalty and improve fundraising results. It’s a cost-effective, easy way to reinforce the bond between your organization and its best supporters. This webinar explored the principles behind affinity groups and looked at several case studies from organizations that have used them successfully.
Grassroots Organizing, Membership, and Fundraising
Tuesday, April 22, 2015 at 3:30 PM ET
Fundraising Webinar: Alexandra Thebert is an innovative leader and consummate organizer. She served as executive director of Save the Wild U.P. in Marquette, Michigan, as chapter organizer for Physicians for National Health Plan in Chicago. In this webinar, she talked about the power of the membership drive to build solidarity and using local culture, history, and real people to promote your issues.
Nonprofit Technology Conference Workshop
Friday, Mar. 6, 2015 at 01:30 PM CT Nonprofit Technology Conference, Austin
Interactive Workshop: A group of development directors from advocacy organizations became inspired to find out which popular fundraising practices yield the best results. In this session, we talked about our journey identifying independent variables, collecting data, and developing and testing a model.
Prospecting for Major Donors
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at 3:00 PM ET
Fundraising Webinar: Rebekah Kaithern shared her recommendations for major gifts prospecting, setting the stage for success, launching cultivation strategies. Rebekah is divisional director of major gifts with Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Salvation Army and, former director of major gifts at WXPN in Philadelphia.
Donor Advised Funds: What You Need to Know
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 at 01:15 PM
Fundraising Webinar: As the number of donor-advised gifts continues to grow, it’s crucial for development staff to know the ins-and-outs of this giving vehicle and to develop best practices for its opportunities and challenges. This free webinar featured guest speaker Ruben D. Orduña, vice president of development and donor services for The San Francisco Foundation.
It's Almost New Year's Eve: Do You Know Where Your Donors Are?
Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Fundraising Webinar: Hint: They are online! Make sure they are seeing some fresh and relevant content from you that will inspire one final gift in 2014.
Year-End Bootcamp Starts Today
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Fundraising Webinar: An average of 40 percent of giving happens at year end. With only 92 days left, now is the time to make sure your organization is primed to take advantage of year end giving.
Using Benchmark Reports to Gauge Performance
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Fundraising Webinar: M+R, Blackbaud, Guidestar, Giving USA. It seems like everyone’s benchmarking. Which one should you use to gauge your own organization’s fundraising success?
A growing number of organizations are using giving clubs and affinity groups to build donor loyalty and improve fundraising results. It's a cost-effective, easy way to reinforce the bond between your organization and its best supporters. If you've wondered whether your organization could benefit from such a group, check out this webinar as we explore the ins-and-outs of this cultivation strategy. At the end of the 45-minute session, you'll know how to evaluate your own organization's potential in this area, and how to establish, manage, and grow an affinity group.
View the full recording:
We would like to know about some of the fundraising practices you used in your organization, specifically the practices you used in 2013. Please think back to that period -- January through December of 2013 -- and answer each question to the best of your ability. If you need to consult another member of your staff, or research your records to answer any of the questions, feel free to do so.
There are a total of 20 questions, and they should take about 10 minutes to answer. Questions will display one at a time. If, for some reason, you are unable to complete this questionnaire in one sitting, simply close your browser wherever you pause. When you want to return to the survey, click again on the link provided, and the answers you have already given will be there.Take the survey
Designed for the busy fundraising professional, these slide decks feature field-tested practices and time-saving techniques to help you manage your daily tasks. Feel free to download and share as-is or modify to meet your needs. Be sure to check out our upcoming webinars and trainings sessions.
This page describes the Nonprofit Research Project's goals, research design, and preliminary findings. This information was first presented in March 2015 at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin. View the presentation.
See the final report: Popular Fundraising Practices: How Well Do They Work for Advocacy Organizations
help staff choose the most effective fundraising strategies -- aimed at increasing giving among current donors -- for their organization
take into account the organization’s size, staff experience, and board involvement. In other words, which “best practice” will be the best practice for my organization?
focus on cost-effective and easy to execute strategies, so . . . no galas!
778 organizations were selected at random to receive a 20-question survey on their fundraising practices
the study was limited to organizations engaged in advocacy, public policy, civic engagement, and public interest law
the online survey was sent via email to the development director or, in the absence of a development director, the executive director
the survey was conducted from Jan. 20 to Feb. 17, 2015
personal phone calls were made to encourage participation
survey responses were matched with IRS administrative records (FY2013) to create the datafile
About the sample
162 completed surveys
44 states represented, the most from DC and California
14 different categories represented, from arts and culture to health, education, and international affairs. Environment, civil rights, and crime/legal related categories had the highest numbers.
Individual Giving and Revenue
Most organizations (77 percent) have fewer than 1,000 donors
Most (60 percent) have fewer than 5,000 names on their email file
Average revenue is $1,995,251 (median is $1,266,532)
Only 17 percent count on individual donors to make up 50 percent or more of their revenue
Staff and volunteers
Two-thirds of the organizations have staff dedicated to development
38 percent have executive directors with less than five years tenure; while one-third have tenure of 10 years or more
Two-thirds of the organizations indicated that at least a few of their board members engaged in fundraising activities, either meeting with donors, sharing names, or thanking donors personally. However, out of this group, only about one-third said that more than a quarter of their board members participated in these activities.
More than half (54 percent) have sustainer programs, but of that group, only 12 percent place a heavy emphasis on this program
About half also use matching campaigns (47 percent) and conditional ask strings (51 percent)
Only 42 percent have giving clubs
The most widely used fundraising practice, coming in at 85 percent, is a donate button on the website
Only 30 percent have mobile compatible donation forms
- View the full report: Popular Fundraising Practices: How Well Do They Work for Advocacy Organizations
Blue Strike supported an academic research project examining nonprofit fundraising practices. In January 2015, 778 organizations received a 20-question survey about their fundraising activities.
Preliminary findings were presented March 6, 2015 at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin. Findings and recommendations were shared with all respondents and disseminated to the nonprofit community at large. The survey results are intended to aid in the development of tools that will improve the nonprofit community’s performance and positively affect the work of many organizations.
If you have any questions or would like more information about the research, please feel free to contact me at (703) 399-0855.
Mary Dillon Kerwin
By some estimates, charities receive upwards of 40 percent of their donations in December -- so it pays to be prepared. Here are five quick recommendations for making the most of your year end giving.
1. Show donors fresh, relevant content. Be sure to consider what your donors will be seeing when they look at your website or open your year end appeal. Use new photos and up-to-date information about your issues . . . especially if your issues are getting media attention. Work closely with your program staff to weave messaging and action into your appeals.
2. Execute your solicitation activities. Year-end letters and emails, matching campaigns, a final push for major gifts; they all need to happen now. Be conscious of the calendar and other people's schedules. If your executive director or board chair will be writing personal notes on year-end letters, make sure to leave enough time. It always takes longer than we think! And, if you’ve been holding a solicitation, waiting for someone to make a personal call, don’t wait anymore. Send it now.
3. Connect with office staff. Lots of staff will be taking time off. But it's also your busiest time of year, so plan ahead. Remind everyone that you're gearing up for year end. Post a visible reminder like a dashboard or a thermometer on your door or bulletin board. Beyond your development team, be sure administration and finance know how to handle year-end gifts and how to help donors with things like stock transfers, in case you're not around. Add some fun and gratitude for the extra work.
4. Engage board members. Request help in finishing out the year. Have all board members made a gift this year? Provide regular communications during the coming weeks to keep everyone up to date. You might want to hold a board fundraising webinar or schedule thank you calls. Personal thank you's can be a great way to engage your board in outreach and build meaningful relationships with donors.
5. Pay attention to your online presence. Plan for a shadow box, home page hi-jack, and new lead stories. Make it easy to find info on stock transfers, IRA rollovers, donor advised funds and other specialized gifts. Check your profiles in Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Guidestar to make sure your info is up to date.
In the midst of the excitement and pressure . . . don't forget to breathe!