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.
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:
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.
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!
There’s been a lot chatter about the ice bucket challenge and whether this wildly successful fundraiser will ring in a new order for the nonprofit marketplace. An informal poll by Philanthropy News Digest showed 47 percent of respondents think it represents “something new in fundraising.”
At first glance, it looks like a new approach. It certainly tosses a lot of received wisdom out the window. It doesn’t 'demonstrate need.' It doesn't use 'performance-based measures.' It doesn’t even 'tell a story' -- the donor communication du jour. So, yes, it challenges some of our basic assumptions.
But on closer examination, we can see that it actually uses several tried-and-true techniques. They’ve emerged in a slightly different form, but they should be familiar to many of us.
- Good brand name. The ice bucket challenge leverages the name recognition of a well-established, respected organization. ALS has a good reputation, they are well-known in the health circles. That counts for a lot. Even if you know nothing about the organization, you’ve probably heard of this devastating disease.
- Friends asking friends. Now we call it peer-to-peer fundraising, but it’s a well-established principle: solicitation is most successful when it takes place between two people who know each other and who run in the same circles. You don’t see bosses challenging employees. Not cool, right?
- Challenge campaign. It taps into our competitive streak and gives us a chance to be part of a team. Almost every organization has seen this work at one point or another. Donors unresponsive to regular pleas for funds all of the sudden jump on board when it’s a matching campaign.
One more positive note -- in an era when nonprofits are tempted to invest in expensive things like target analytics and the latest fundraising software, it’s refreshing to see a highly successful fundraising activity just take off on its own.
You have better things to do than browse the internet looking for resources. The following organizations offer the best in online training, free/low-cost templates, samples policies, networking opportunities and in-person training. They give you solid, no-gimmicks advice without trying to sell you pricey products.
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- TechSoup The Place for Nonprofits and Libraries the source for discounted software and hardware
- Venable LLP - Nonprofit Services great slide shows, webinar recordings and tip sheets
What if one of your board members called you up one day and said, “I’m going to be in Atlanta next month. Are there any donors I can meet with while I’m there?” or “My college roommate just sold her successful company. How should we connect with her?” Or, how about, "I'd like to write some personal thank you notes to our donors. Would you send me some names and addresses?" Well, these are all things board members actually did say. Their willingness to cultivate donors (yes, they truly volunteered) was just one of the co-benefits of a highly-successful thank you call effort. Find out more about how you can launch your own board engagement/thank you call effort in these slides.
Charity watchdogs evaluate thousands of nonprofits every year. Their ratings influence donors' giving decisions and can either positively or negatively impact on an organization’s brand. Nonprofit executives, especially development directors, should carefully manage their organization’s profiles and pay close attention to their ratings. Check out these slides for ideas on how to gain the upper hand in the watchdog game.