Klein & Roth Consulting E-Newsletter
Welcome to our March 2013 e-newsletter. This month, we present a discussion between all of us here at Klein & Roth Consulting about a provocative new report about the field of fundraising from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, advice from Kim about anonymous donors, and information about upcoming public workshops.
Klein & Roth Roundtable Discussion on ‘UnderDeveloped’
The team at Klein & Roth Consulting (Kim, Rona, Stan, Nancy and Stephanie) got together to discuss the latest CompassPoint report, ‘UnderDeveloped: A Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising’, a national report about the state of the development profession in nonprofits. The following are the highlights of our discussion and where we think the conversation could be taken further. We encourage everyone who has a role in development to read this fascinating, well-written and well researched report. Visit our Facebook page to join the conversation!
Kim: What were some things that were surprising and not surprising about the CompassPoint report on development directors?
Rona: I was sad but not surprised to see that development director jobs sometimes sit vacant for months and months. That has definitely been my experience when I’ve helped clients try to find development staff. Sometimes the client fills the position and the person doesn’t work out. Then it takes a long time to find the new person. A lot of the organizations I’ve worked with end up hiring from within---someone already on staff who might’ve been doing a little bit of fundraising or they restructure so that maybe a program manager does more grant writing, and they don’t end up hiring a new person.
Stephanie: That’s interesting because hiring from within is not mentioned here in the report at all. Hiring from within is something I often recommend—you have a person who knows the organization and has proven that they care about it.
Nancy: The biggest surprise to me was the difference between what the development directors thought of the fundraising program and what the executive directors thought about it.
Kim: I agree. I think an interesting follow-up to this report would be to ask, ‘What is the role of the executive director in making it possible for the development director to do their job?’ Often when you see good development directors you see a good executive director. And when you see development directors that don’t work out, you find executive directors who don’t want to fundraise or provide any kind of leadership in fundraising.
Stan: Some of the recommendations were innovative and good, such as treating a development director transition like an executive director transition. But others were not as useful, such as ‘let’s talk about this more in the sector.’ I would have liked to hear more of the authors’ thinking about how to increase the engagement of boards, and how we can get executive directors to understand the importance of their role in relation to the development director.
Nancy: There were two other things that were surprising to me. One was that only 41% of executive directors were very satisfied with the development directors’ performance, even in larger organizations. That tells me there’s some set-up as far as the ED's expectations. The other was the salaries. For organizations with annual budgets under $1 million, the average salary was $50,000, but that for groups with budgets between $1 million and $5 million, the average salary was $65,000. That seemed low to me.
Stephanie: One of the things that didn’t go far enough or maybe just didn’t reflect my values was the section about the culture of philanthropy. The report was good in terms of talking about having greater respect for fundraising, and encouraging greater participation in fundraising across board and staff, but I felt it was missing a larger political framework and the importance of seeing fundraising as integral to program work. We talk a lot about how fundraising is one of the ways that you engage a community, build awareness of important social issues, and build power. The report focused on, ‘let’s have more respect for the field and in how we treat people.’ Which is not the same as seeing constituent engagement expressed through their donations as important. Having a good culture of fundraising goes beyond having a good attitude about fundraising. This is not just in social justice groups either. Arts and culture organizations need to pay attention because their audiences are a key source of donors, and generally there’s a big overlap between donors and audience/customers.
Kim: I think the report lacks an analysis about the power of different kinds of donors. What’s really interesting is that the groups that always have known that you should have a culture of fundraising and everyone should be involved with it and every single person that surrounds you should be asked for money are groups that are most successful like colleges and universities and hospitals. A good question to ask is, ‘Who will find the news in this report surprising?’ I would say, probably funders. Even Gara LaMarche (formerly of Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Foundations) said in the report that he was sorry that as a funder he didn’t put more money into helping groups to develop fundraising capacity.
Rona: One thing that was surprised me was the number of development directors who weren’t going to stay in fundraising. It makes me think that people are seeing this as a stepping-stone to something else. If they want to be an executive director or a program officer at a foundation, being a development director is a way to get something else they want. If you have a development director who’s not committed to that profession or that job for more than two years, how can you really build a culture of fundraising? I wonder if there is a relationship between how dissatisfied people are with their development directors and how few development people want to be in those jobs.
Stephanie: But like a lot of other people, I fell into fundraising and it wasn’t something I was looking to do but I ended up liking it. For people who fall into it and the experience is mostly not positive, they decide they don’t like it and leave. It would be interesting to look at where they go and whether they are happier in other roles inside the nonprofit.
Kim: One thing that’s true is that this report is getting some great conversations going.
Anonymous Means Anonymous
Kim Klein writes a fundraising advice column, “Dear Kim” for the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT), answering questions posed by readers. The column appears in GIFT’s monthly e-newsletter and on their website. If you have a question you’d like Kim to consider answering in the column, you can email her, and write “Dear Kim” in the subject line. Here is a recent “Dear Kim” Q&A:
We have a donor who gives $5000 a year anonymously. We would like to figure out who this person is so we can tailor our requests to what he or she is interested in and find out what attracts him or her to our agency. What are legal ways to find out the identity of an anonymous donor?
Dying to Know
What part of ‘anonymous’ is not clear to you? People who give anonymously don’t want their identities known and that is ALL you need to know. You can send thank you notes, updates on your programs, annual reports and the like to whatever address you have (a bank, a PO Box, or whatever.) In my experience, anonymous donors are often much closer to the organization than you are aware and they are getting all the information they need.
I know you meant well in your desire to find out who this person is, but the first rule of dealing with any person is that they have the right to reveal what they want and to keep things to themselves. When the donor wants you to know who he or she is, they will tell you.
For now, focus on the donors you know.
Klein & Roth Consulting Upcoming Public Workshops
Information about public workshops conducted by Klein & Roth Consulting can be found on our website.
April 30, 2013 10am PST: Build a Better Board
A GIFT Webinar with Stephanie Roth
October 18-20, 2013: Successful Fundraising in Difficult Times
Kim Klein’s ONLY residential fundraising training program in 2013. This is a rare opportunity to get an in-depth training experience with Kim Klein in a small group. Participants get a lot of personalized attention and the location is a gorgeous and affordable retreat center in Western Massachusetts. Sign up soon as this event sells out. For more information and to register.
All the best,
Klein & Roth Consulting
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