I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve spoken with nonprofit fundraisers and heard this statement, “We’ve got a great CEO, but I just can’t get him/her to get involved in asking for money.”
It’s a bit of a quandary to me, especially when most CEO’s position descriptions include raising funds as part of their responsibilities. So whenever I hear this frustration being expressed by a development officer it makes me wonder why asking for donations is so difficult for nonprofit leaders?
- Is it fear of rejection? This is a very reasonable concern. After all, nobody wants to be turned down when it’s taken a lot of courage to ask in the first place.
- Is it pride? It’s very understandable if a CEO, who is the public face of your organization, feels uncomfortable with the thought of asking faithful friends of your nonprofit to give. After all, your donors have given in the past, isn’t it likely they’ll give again when they’re good and ready? Perhaps it makes the CEO feel a little cheap or shoddy to have to ask for money.
- Are they just too busy? This is the most common reason given for not participating in the funding process. The CEO’s of most nonprofits really do have a lot on their plates.
One of the reasons I’ve found for the CEO not leading the way in this critical endeavor is really related to the lack of preparation. The good thing about this is you, as a development officer, can do something about this.
Most great fundraising organizations work together as a team. This requires careful role definitions, clarity of communication, and a whole lot of trust in each other. It also requires training.
The good thing, is there is quality training available! The absolute best training that I, personally, have experienced is offered by The Institute for Charitable Giving [instituteforgiving.org] founded by Jerold Panas and William Sturtevant. They offer several two-day seminars. The first in their series is called,Seize the Opportunity. This course is designed for both the CEO and the development officer to attend together. They use a philosophy called Moves Management™ Here at Douglas Shaw & Associates, we’ve encouraged all of our client service staff and their assigned clients to attend this highly informative institute, and the results have been extremely encouraging!
The confidence that comes from solid preparation or training is irreplaceable. You’ll come away with knowledge that most of the major nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada have gained through this same training. At one point, they were offering free tuition to the CEO if accompanied by the development officer. I’m not certain this offer is still valid, but it’s worth checking out.
The real key to employing the Moves Management™ philosophy is to return to your office following the training and jump right into it. So often, the day-to-day pressures of your job can easily distract you from implementing all the great things you will have just learned. But don’t let it happen! It will require great will power to stay the course but you’ll be glad you did!
But here’s the really good news . . . your training will not only help you prepare and implement Moves Management™ with your CEO, but you will also learn key ways to include your board as well. Happy fundraising!