A recent conversation with my daughter on the way to school led to a startling realization. My role as Director of Major Gifts at Franklin & Marshall College has taught me a lot about driving success, both as a professional fundraiser and as a parent. During this particular drive, my daughter peppered me with questions about what I was going to do that day. Do I like my job? Why did I have meetings and what did I talk about during them? With whom was I going to talk? Why does my team follow my directions? How do I succeed at my job? Her curiosity led me to think about how closely my career integrates with my family life and how my experiences leading a team of major gifts officers informs my parenting at home. What lessons have I learned from my life as “Mom and Major Gifts Officer” or, to coin a term, the MoMGO?
CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”
CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
Framing this quote in the context of the nonprofit sector, we have observed at Fundraising Leadership that most nonprofits invest in fundraising training. Where we see the gap is investing in growing leadership capacity. As David Hutchinson, President of Cause Leadership Inc., explains the social profit sector is currently facing one of the most significant leadership transitions. And there is an urgent need to develop the next generation of leaders. [Read more…]
Sidney Mathias Baxter Coulling III, the retired S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English at Washington and Lee University died in February of 2016 at the age of 92. I had the distinct privilege of being taught Old English Literature and Poetry by Professor Coulling in 1981 as a freshman at W&L. It was the toughest “C” I ever earned (one of only two as an undergraduate). How I made my way into a sophomore level course (also taken by many juniors) is a testament to my naiveté–an error that only a greenhorn first-year student can make. [Read more…]
A donor called. “Cancer,” he said from his post-exam waiting room. “Will you come to talk to me for a few minutes?”, the donor asked. I ran out of my office thinking “How should I act? What should I say?”
I have been raising money in the healthcare context for the last ten years. The dream of helping people live out their lives to the fullest extent possible, overcoming the obstacles that disease, disability, and life throw at you…it is hard to imagine anything more tangible or more inspiring. In my role as a fundraiser at San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, I get the opportunity to support healthcare professionals delivering care in many situations: from Trauma where life and death are on the line, to Social Medicine where homeless patients get help far beyond medical interventions, to the Birth Center where wonderful healthy babies are born HIV free to HIV positive parents thanks to the dedicated work of a vast network of social workers, case managers, and many others. [Read more…]
For many non-profit professionals, the end of the year can feel like a whirlwind. There is often a big push to secure those year-end gifts, which then creates a demand to process all of those gifts before December 31st. Frequently there are year-end board meetings, which create significant amounts of extra work for staff. Fundraising staff is busy organizing with volunteers to call donors or write personal, hand-written notes to thank them for their support. And then there is the endless parade of holiday parties and lunches. Who’s got time to even think!
Since it is often a busy time of year – both professionally and personally – you might suddenly find yourself facing the New Year and wondering where the time has gone. And, you may be asking yourself: “how did I get here?” [Read more…]
Creating a Leadership Legacy That Will Impact Future Generations
Is your organization constantly suffering from a lack of donations or inconsistent funding? Are you passionate about a worthy cause that can’t seem to gain momentum while making an impact? Do you need more wealthy donors, but don’t seem to be resonating with them?
There could be a hidden reason that you are totally unaware of.
If you ignore this common problem that so many non-profits and charitable organizations suffer from, your funding problems may not only continue, but they may end up getting worse. [Read more…]
About two years ago I established a morning routine that includes 20 minutes of meditation. Although I had meditated on and off for about five years, it has now become an important and joyful part of my life.
I sense that many of you already meditate or have tried it (or thought about trying it). After all, meditation and mindfulness have been well researched and much has been reported about the benefits.
As Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of the renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, explains mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” [Read more…]
Running a nonprofit organization is a tall task. Many small to medium size nonprofits struggle with insufficient resources (human and capital) to fully execute their missions. Nonprofit leaders frequently have something on their plate, juggling multiple priorities and stakeholders. It doesn’t matter if you’re the sole employee of the organization, or if you have a large team around you; there’s one thing you can’t compromise on: “donor service.”
For example, how do you or other staff members respond when donors reach out with questions? What do you say when a donor sends you a complaint, expresses a concern, or makes a suggestion? [Read more…]
This past year, I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving as president for Apra, the professional association to which I belong. It was an extraordinary experience. It was also hard! It involved diplomacy, a lot of listening, understanding different perspectives, having difficult conversations, getting people to consensus and the occasional “herding of cats.”
But here’s the thing: If being president of Apra were easy, I wouldn’t have learned or grown as much as I did. Brene Brown sums it up well: “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of skills and practices that are 100 percent teachable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. Easy? No. Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. Worth it? Always.” [Read more…]
This week I celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary.
My wife and I have a wonderful relationship, and we live full lives as partners, parents, and professionals. We align on most things and rarely disagree.
There is, however, one realm where we do not align, and it’s been a source of friction for us over the years. It has to do with how we keep track of everything in our busy lives so that we honor our promises and commitments (a.k.a., keeping your word) to each other, as well as to our family, friends, and colleagues.