Three Keys to Combating Nonprofit Fundraising Challenges: Part One

Part One: Professional Development and the Development Plan

Executive Directors and Development Directors are often faced with some significant challenges when it comes to fundraising. While the magnitude of these challenges can vary, they are not insurmountable. In this two-part blog series we share resources that may help overcome or alleviate some of these challenges. Identified challenges include:

  • Many development directors have had limited firsthand experience securing gifts, and the applicant pool for development professionals is woefully inadequate to meet the demand
  • Many development departments lack written development plans and even basic technological infrastructure such as a donor database or CRM
  • Executive directors and board members are often ambivalent about fundraising or have an outright dislike for asking for money
  • Development directors are often tasked with unrealistic goals and get little support from organizations, many of which lack a culture of philanthropy.

Accessing Training & Professional Development for Your Staff

Training and professional development opportunities are important components of the ongoing education of development directors and officers, and also executive directors and program staff.  More and more colleges and universities are offering curriculum, degree programs, post-graduate programs and certificates in fundraising and nonprofit management.

If there is an institution of higher education in your vicinity, by all means check to see what they offer in the field of fund development.  If not, many programs are offered online, and there are even free educational resources available through AFP, WealthEngine and Guidestar.

To help your organization’s leaders see professional development as an investment rather than an expense, tie training and professional development to the strategic goals or objectives of the organization.  For instance, if one of the goals for the development team is to increase major giving, an investment in major gift training would be appropriate to help achieve that goal.

A Strategy and Tactics Worksheet  provides the rationale for investing in training for major gift officers and other staff – even those tangentially involved in fundraising.  Broad training covering the value of and processes used in fundraising will benefit efforts to establish a culture of philanthropy.).

Creating a Development Plan for Your Organization’s Fundraising Programs

A development plan is a MUST first-step to creating a successful development operation.  And prior to developing a plan, a thorough analysis of past operations and results is needed.  Only by understanding where the organization’s strengths and weakness exist, can a competent development leader craft a plan that will improve results.  WealthEngine’s Growing Individual Gifts Workbook provides step-by-step instructions and tools to guide you through the analysis, forecasting, strategy development and writing of a comprehensive development plan.

A development plan should be drafted by the development staff, with input from the executive director.  Once finalized, the plan should be presented to the development committee of the board of directors, and then to the full board.  The process of presenting the plan to the executive director, board committee and full board is an invaluable opportunity to educate these leaders about the importance of philanthropy, and their roles and responsibilities related to fundraising.  With this accomplishment, you are on your way to creating a culture of philanthropy, which I’ll discuss next time.

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