Two is always better than one when it comes to things like puppies or vacations or pieces of cake (maybe even glasses of wine) but what about fundraisers in the same role at the same time? This was the situation for me when I started a new role in an arts organization after spending three years at an academic institution. I was excited to return to being a full-time major gift fundraiser with great opportunities in front of me at a transitional time in the organization. One unexpected element was learning that it would, in fact, be two of us starting the same senior role, two weeks apart. After a brief pause, and a request to meet my double, my surprise became delight and things began to fall into place. [Read more…]
This scenario plays out frequently at many nonprofit organizations: top-performing professionals gets promoted to lead a team but has never been trained to lead or manage. This is often a disaster—results suffer, people head for the door, and the new manager flames out (and may even get fired).
There are a few key reasons why some frontline professionals struggle as leaders and others do not.
One of the most important decisions a Chief Advancement or Development Officer for a large team can make is picking the right people, particularly in leadership roles, for their shop. As the supply of professionals in our industry continues to play catch up to demand, it becomes critical that you keep and retain your leaders and their teams. [Read more…]
The Fundraising Leadership team (David, Silvia, Michelle and I) have all completed the CTI Leadership program. This program rejects the top-down, one-dimensional leadership model and expands our definition of leadership.
This new model is grounded in the idea that everyone is a leader because “leaders are those who are responsible for their world.” [Read more…]
Feeling out of control is a nasty feeling. When we are out of control, we are often reacting to what’s going on:
- The tears are ready to come, and it is NOT the time to cry.
- A sarcastic comment slips out, and we didn’t mean it to.
- We bite someone’s head off…and then regret it.
- Our voice quivers, telling the world how nervous we are.
- That cuss word just tumbled out, when it shouldn’t have!
All of these are examples of losing control. We feel powerless to hold onto our feelings and behaviours.
We simply react. [Read more…]
Listening at the speed of sound;
More curious than an inquisitive cat;
Able to access and express intuition in a single blurt.
It’s Superleader. Disguised as a mild-mannered nonprofit professional, Superleader is endowed with extraordinary qualities and fights a never-ending battle for mission, impact, and results.
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…]