Dear Non-Profit President / CEO / Executive Director,

open letterMy online friend, Marc Pitman is hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and asks his fellow non-profit bloggers to write an open letter to executive directors in honor of President’s Day. ¬†For those of you who don’t know of Marc, he is well-known to friends and business associates as “The Fundraising Coach“. As the coach describes in his call for submissions post, he runs into CEOs who think hiring a development director gets them out of their fundraising responsibilities.
I have run into the same situation many times, and this open letter is my President’s Day gift to those executive directors.

Dear Non-Profit President / CEO / Executive Director:
Congratulations on making an important investment in your agency’s resource development program. Hiring the right fundraising professional should help take you to bigger and better things. You’re embarking on what is surely a fun and exciting organizational journey. Enjoy it!
However, the road ahead is full of potholes and obstacles.
First, please know that you can never abdicate your role as the agency’s “Chief Development Officer“. Sure, you’ve just hired someone to take on that role, but Harry Truman said it best when he said “The buck stops here.” Your fundraising role may look different now, but you will likely still be involved in some capacity with:

  • Cultivating prospects & stewarding donors
  • Soliciting donors
  • Supporting fundraising volunteers

Your focus may shift from more annual fund activities involving pledge drives and special events and move more towards major gifts and cultivating long-term donor relationships.
What is most obvious is that you’re role as “fundraising visionary” is more important now than ever before.
Why? Simply because there are more chef in the kitchen.
As you open your executive director toolbox, you will find many different tools that you need to become proficient at using, including:

  • written resource development plan
  • fundraising dashboards and scorecards
  • donor database (or CRM)
  • staff and volunteer job descriptions

However, one of the most powerful tools that you need to master is the annual performance plan for your new employee — the development director.
If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it too many times, where an executive director fails to provide the newly hired fundraising professional with a written performance plan. Instead, they simply say: “Go raise some money. Chop-Chop!
Please don’t be one of those Non-Profit Presidents. You are better than that. Besides, not providing your new employee with a written annual performance plan is akin to setting them up for failure. How? Why? Because they don’t know what success looks like at the end of the year. They aren’t mind readers and don’t know what you’ll be grading them on other than raw dollars and cents.
For those of you who are new to annual performance plans, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure each objective is measurable
  • Make it clear what it will take for the employee to go from a “meets expectation” to “exceeds expectation” for each objective
  • Link the performance plan back to the agency’s written resource development plan or strategic plan
  • Ask for feedback and input from your new fundraising partner and make any necessary adjustments

Finally, once you’ve cemented a performance plan in place, sit down with the new development director and engage in a clear discussion around what your new role could and should be with regard to resource development and fundraising.
Well, I hope your President’s Day was awesome and best of luck on your fundraising journey.
As always, I raise my glass to you and say, “Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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