February 8, 2013

Do your work even better – check out these resources

Remember that pesky UnderDeveloped Report… A national study of challenges facing nonprofit fundraising. Did you read my 3-part blog posted in “Simone Uncensored” on January 19, 21, and 23

Wondering what to do about those problems identifed in that report? Check out this special UnderDeveloped Webinar Series. Join the national conversation! Hear ideas about how to respond. Add your comments. Invite your boss and board members to attend, too.

This 3-part webinar series will explore the root causes of chronically under-developed fundraising capacity among nonprofits from three perspectives – nonprofit leaders, consultants and capacity builders, and funders.

  • Part 1: What it Really Takes to Create a Culture of Philanthropy (March 6, 12pm – 2pm PST, $45) for executive directors, senior development staff, and board members
  • Part 2: First Do No Harm: Are Consultants Part of the Problem? (April 11, 12pm – 2pm, $45) for nonprofit capacity builders, consultants, and sector academics
  • Part 3: Investing in Grantee Fundraising Capacity, What Really Works? (date TBD, $45) for grantmakers and funders

These conversations – convened by CompassPoint, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, and the Nonprofit Quarterly – will help develop a set of clear, nuanced, and actionable recommendations available for the entire sector. Register today!

And here are a few other resources for you:

— Check out the 2012 Atlas of Giving Report, highlighted by The Agitator in its post of February 5, 2013.

— Read this interesting finding from Case Western Reserve University… “We have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time.” In summary, “scientific accounts leave out the human touch.” Good fundraisers care about this neuroscience stuff. Mostly beware of the analytic type stuff. Pay attention to the emotions. Hey, do you read neurosciencemarketing.com? Check it out. Subscribe for free.

Filed under: Resources / Research

January 26, 2013

Bad news board: CEO compensation and performance

A colleague told me about this bad news board: The CEO is paid several million dollars to run a huge nonprofit institution. This is not, necessarily, excessive compensation. But the board – the full board – is accountable for talking about and finalizing the compensation. This board doesn’t do that.

The board doesn’t participate in the CEO’s performance appraisal either. The board doesn’t review the results of the performance appraisal to decide if it agrees.

And, it gets worse! The CEO’s performance appraisal and compensation are not connected to service quality, client satisfaction, or adherence to industry standards. (I wonder what CEO performance is based on?!)

Sadly, I’m not particularly surprised at this report. I see far too many dysfunctional boards. Even the boards of big institutions – like hospitals and higher education – sometimes seem clueless about governance.

Or, maybe these supposedly highly sophisticated boards with all those powerful and important people think that compensation and performance are  the job of the board chair or the executive committee. And rogue board chairs and rogue executive committees are all too willing to comply. (I’m on a worldwide mission to destroy all executive committees – and to fire rogue board chairs!)

I wonder what the IRS would think about this. I wonder what donors would think about this.

Review the job description of the board in the Free Download Library on my website. See the sample CEO performance appraisal process in the Free Download Library on my website.

January 23, 2013

Big news but no surprise…vicious cycle, Part 3

Part 3 of a 3-part blog. I hope you read Parts 1 and 2, published on January 18 and January 21 in “Simone Uncensored.” And I will post all three parts as one document  in my Free Download Library on this website.

Part 3

I hope you’ve now read Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. This study, released in January 2013 by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, provides useful information to fundraisers, bosses, and boards.

Lots of people are talking, writing, and blogging about this report. For example, check out the articles in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 13, 2013, and in the Nonprofit Quarterly, January 19. Another example: Pam Grow’s well-titled blog, “If you’re not committed to funding your mission, you’re not committed to your mission.”

In summary, here’s the scoop: Development officers quit. Bosses fire development officers. Boards don’t play. Organizations don’t get it. This vicious cycle threatens financing of the sector. And, this has been going on for years and we aren’t really fixing it.

Here are my various and sundry thoughts about fundraisers who don’t know the body of knowledge. I’m always surprised and disappointed when I mention key names in the fundraising world – authors and experts and researchers – and fundraisers don’t know whom I am talking about. I’m disappointed that so many consultants and fundraisers aren’t reading research. The bottom line: I’m worried that professionals in fundraising aren’t continuing their professional development.

I think fund development is a difficult field. You have to know the body of knowledge about fundraising. You have to know the body of knowledge in management and governance and communications and… You have to know “why” not just “how.” You have to know strategy and tactics.

Hiring the right development officer. Read about executive director dissatisfaction on pages 8 and 9 in Underdeveloped. Yes, development officers should be able to conduct prospect research, solicit gifts, enable volunteers to successfully participate, etc. Executive directors should use the CFRE International role delineation (described in the Test Content Outline), to verify what fundraisers need to know.

So don’t hire an inexperienced development officer. Or, if you cannot afford a knowledgeable and experienced fundraiser, consider developing someone from within.

I have successfully helped development officers acquire the skills and expertise to perform better within their institutions. I have helped organizations find a high-performing current staff person who wants to become a development officer. Then through a consultancy and private coaching, that reliable employee becomes a good development officer.

Read Parts 1 and 2 of this 3-part blog…where I share my thoughts (and my pet peeves) about bosses and boards and fundraising. And you’ll find more of my thoughts about bosses and boards and fundraising in my NPQ web column and in my blog “Simone Uncensored.”

A few final thoughts about the Underdeveloped report…

Did you know that professions dominated by women are typically paid less than jobs held by men? Too often, professions dominated by women are disrespected.

I’m curious: How many female development officers are fighting male CEOs and boards often dominated by men? So maybe there is a bit of sexism playing out. I wonder, do bosses and boards listen better to male development officers?

Do you have the right policies and procedures and systems in place to support fundraising? For example, does your organization understand the Donor Bill of Rights and AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice – and adhere to them? Visit AFP for these documents. Do you have a decent fundraising database with a relationship-building focus? For example, check out Bloomerang, the new fundraising database from Jay Love, the founder of e-Tapestry. Bloomerang is based on Adrian Sargeant’s research about donor loyalty. How cool is that?

In conclusion

See page 22 of Underdeveloped. Very nice diagram of the vicious cycle. Good summary of the conditions for success. And pages 23 to 27 list 10 calls to action to “spark conversation and provoke action.” Compare these 10 calls to action with the calls to action in Sargeant and Shang’s Growing Philanthropy in the U.S Report.

We can do this – all of us organizations and executive directors and fundraisers.

Yes, we can do this. More importantly, we have to do this. Otherwise, there won’t be sufficient loyal donors who give gifts. If we don’t do this, organizations will die. If we don’t do this, the nonprofit sector will flounder.

So that’s the end of my various and sundry thoughts about the report, Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. This study, released in January 2013 by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, provides useful information to fundraisers, bosses, and boards. For all three parts in one article, visit the Fund Development section of the Free Download Library on my website, www.simonejoyaux.com.

Come on. Let’s get it together. We can make change.

January 21, 2013

Big news but no surprise…vicious cycle, Part 2

Part 2 of a 3-part blog. I hope you read Part 1, published on January 18 in “Simone Uncensored.” And I will post all three parts as one document  in my Free Download Library on this website.

Part 2

In summary, here’s the scoop: Development officers quit. Bosses fire development officers. Boards don’t play. Organizations don’t get it. This vicious cycle threatens financing of the sector. And, this has been going on for years and we aren’t really fixing it.

I hope you are worried! I hope you’ve now read Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. This study, released in January 2013 by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, provides useful information to fundraisers, bosses, and boards. Check out the articles in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 13, 2013, and in the Nonprofit Quarterly, January 19.

So here are my various and sundry thoughts about why fundraisers leave their jobs.

First, review page 19 of Underdeveloped. Note that executive directors and development officers “often disagree about the fundraising culture in their organizations.” No surprise: chief executives think there is a stronger fundraising culture than fundraisers do. I’m thinking that the fundraisers may be more right.

Mostly, I’m thinking: Has the organization (staff and board members) articulated a shared vision of a culture of philanthropy and a fundraising culture? Does the organization operate in a donor-centered manner and monitor its performance in this arena? Does the organization (staff and board members) understand that loyalty is the holy grail of fundraising?

Then I’m thinking: Does the fundraiser understand all this stuff? Because the fundraiser has to explain all this to her boss, to his board, to staff colleagues. I’m not explaining all this stuff in this blog. But I’ve been explaining this for years in my own blogs, in my semi-monthly web column (“Unraveling Development) for the Nonprofit Quarterly, in my NPQ articles, and in my books. And I regularly recommend bloggers and books and e-newsletters that talk all about this stuff.

Then I’m wondering: How effective is the fundraiser (and the chief executive) at enabling others to understand. You can know something – but you have to make it real to others. You have to explain the “why” not just the “how” to others. You have to engage others to build their understanding and ownership and willingness to change.

You, the fundraiser and the executive director, have to facilitate others to participate. But far too many executives and fundraisers are not effective enablers. See the handout on enabling in my website’s Free Download Library. Read all about enabling in my book Strategic Fund Development. The 2011 3rd edition of this book includes more enabling functions and more explanation.

In my experience, far too many fundraisers (maybe most?) leave their jobs because the organization sees fundraising as a means to get money for mission. Too many organizations don’t understand philanthropy and fund development. Too many organizations – and the bosses and boards and other staff – devalue philanthropy, think of fund development as “dirty but necessary.”

Too many organizations don’t embrace systems thinking and learning organization business theories. Too many bosses, staff colleagues and boards don’t realize that everything in the organization affects fund development and donors. Too many organizations isolate fundraising and the fundraiser. I strongly urge you to read about systems thinking and learning organization theories. I describe these in my book Strategic Fund Development.

Too many organizations see fundraising as a “necessary somewhat dirty activity” to allow the organization to fulfill it’s so very important mission. Too many organizations don’t understand that donors give through your organization to fulfill their own aspirations.

Here are my various and sundry thoughts about bad bosses and boards and board members.

Board members think just because they know their own business that they know the fundraising business, too. But effective volunteer fundraisers are, most usually, effectively enabled by competent fundraisers.

Fundraisers get real tired of fighting about fundraising with their bosses and boards and staff colleagues. So many fundraisers (and consultants, by the way!) are tired of disrespect. So many fundraisers are tired of learning the body of knowledge, developing the expertise, and gaining the experience … only to be denigrated by bosses and boards that think their opinions trump expertise.

Bosses and board members don’t do what the fundraiser tells them to do. Instead, bosses and boards confuse their personal opinion (which is useless unless that personal opinion is based on the fundraising body of knowledge) with expertise. (And, board service does not mean knowledge or expertise!)

Too often, executive directors deny their fundraisers access to board members. And sometimes the development director isn’t allowed to attend board meetings. (If this non-contact and participation is because the executive director doesn’t trust the fundraiser… I understand. But then get rid of the fundraiser! Get someone you trust.)

About your board members: Every single one of them should be required to help identify those who might be interested in your cause, help nurture relationships, help carry out specific fundraising tasks. I’ve written a lot about this in my NPQ web column and in my years of blogging. (And by the way, I believe in negotiating which items on the fundraising menu of choices each board member will do each year.)

If you want successful fundraising, then you have to recruit board members who will adhere to such performance expectations. You have to screen candidates and secure their commitment to performance expectations prior to nominating them. The governance recruitment and training program has to be pretty darn good. The organization has to enforce consequences for non-performance, e.g., fire lousy board members.

If all this isn’t in place, you cannot expect your fundraising program (or your development officer) to be successful.

Here’s another one of my pet peeves: how you prepare your budget and how you define your charitable contributions goal. How many of you organizations set the charitable contribution goal based on how much money you need to do your great work? And then hand the goal (e.g., the gap!) to the fundraising department? Wrong! Setting the charitable contributions goal doesn’t depend on how much you want. See my NPQ columns and blogs about this topic. Don’t create unreasonable expectations for your fundraiser.

Read Underdeveloped to learn about executive director skills and interest in fund development. Hey, I get it that you might not have much experience in fundraising and you have so much else to do (all that agency management stuff), and, you don’t much like fundraising anyway. Too bad! Tough luck. The competent development officer will guide and train you and direct you to participate in fundraising activities. Yes, your development officer will be your boss when it comes to fundraising.

When I first read page 16 of Underdeveloped, I got so angry that I wrote “criminal and stupid!” in the margin. I’m talking about you, Mr. Executive Director. You don’t let your development director influence key organizational activities. And you set goals in the wrong way.

 That’s the end of Part 2 of this 3-part blog. Make sure you’ve read Part 1 so Part 2 makes sense. And I’ll post Part 3 in another day or two.




January 19, 2013

Big news but no surprise…vicious cycle that stops you from raising money, Part 1

Part 1 of a 3-part blog. I’ll be adding the next parts throughout this coming week. And I may even post all three parts as one document in my Free Download Library on this website.

Part 1

Here’s the scoop: Development officers quit. Bosses fire development officers. Boards don’t play. Organizations don’t get it. This vicious cycle threatens financing of the sector. And, this has been going on for years and we aren’t really fixing it.

Hmmm…. Anyone worried yet? Read Underdeveloped, a newly released study. And read the articles about the study in The Chronicle of Philanthropy and in the Nonprofit Quarterly on line.

Compare the research findings to your organization. Compare the research findings to the fundraising profession. Compare the research findings to you as a fundraiser. Step back and look at the nonprofit sector as a whole.

I hope you’re worried. The research in Underdeveloped isn’t a surprise to anyone that I’ve spoken with. The research isn’t a surprise to the trade publications, to fundraisers, to consultants. So why haven’t we fixed it yet? I’m not sure why. Seems too big a problem? Not really. Laziness? Maybe we’re focused too much on getting quick money for mission rather than making changes required to raise more money over time.

I think one big problem is because too many people – in particular bosses and boards – don’t believe there is a body of knowledge. Yet, there is. And being ignorant of it is a self-inflicted wound that slowly kills.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

First. You. Read the report. Who is “you”? Everyone. Bosses and boards, read the report. Development committees, read the report. Professional associations, read the report and figure out how you can better develop professionals. Bosses, figure out what you are going to change in your organization to make fundraisers want to stay and work with you.

And fundraisers, read the report. Make sure you understand what the job is. Make sure you know what it takes to do the job. Learn the body of knowledge. Develop your fundraising skills. Develop the skills necessary to assess what is happening in the organization so you can lead the change process. Read my thinking in Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, 3rd edition.

Hey, you fundraisers, decide if this is the work you want to do. For just a second, look in the mirror, and just be honest.

Read Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. This study, released in January 2013 by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, provides useful information to fundraisers, bosses, and boards. Check out the articles in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 13, 2013, and in the Nonprofit Quarterly, January 19.

Follow the comments from experts in the field. Lots of people will write about this report. I’m writing about this report. This will be my first blog on the report – with more to following in blogs to come.

By way of background, my comments are based on the following expertise and experience: Working as a professional in the sector since 1975. Served as an executive director with no development staff. Served as a chief development officer. Founded two nonprofits. Regularly serve on boards, often chairing the development committee, chairing the board, etc. Beginning my 26th year as a fulltime consultant specializing in fundraising, board development, and strategic planning. Working with all types and sizes of organizations. Presenting all over the world. Learn about me on my website.

So here goes, my thoughts about Underdeveloped. Maybe you want to use my thoughts along with the report to make change in your organization and in you.

First: Why does this report matter? Because nonprofits could raise more money if they had more engaged organizations, supportive bosses, board member participation, and adherence to the body of knowledge.

I believe that nonprofits deserve more money to do important work. But only if nonprofits do fundraising well. More and more I tell nonprofits, shut down! Close if you cannot do the basic fundamentals of fundraising well. Quit whining about how you don’t have enough time and the work is hard. Quit whining that you must focus on mission and clients and fundraising doesn’t warrant focus. Just stop it

I believe that the nonprofit sector is critical to a democracy. I believe that charitable support – through financial investment and volunteer time – is critical. But financial investment isn’t growing. Just read the 2011 Growing Philanthropy in the United States Report, by Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang. For the past 40+ years, annual U.S. giving is estimated to be only 2% of average household disposable giving. That percentage has not changed. Even in the economic boom years, that percentage doesn’t grow. Giving remains static.

That’s pretty sad. And we cannot blame our citizens. The nonprofit sector – its fundraisers and bosses and boards – just don’t do fundraising that well. This is our challenge and our opportunity. Read the Growing Philanthropy Report. Compare your performance as a fundraiser, as an organization. Read Underdeveloped in partnership with the Growing Philanthropy Report.

Revolving door: Instability in the Development Director Role

It’s bad enough to know that development directors often stay only briefly. It’s quite another thing to read the actual numbers about length of vacancy in filling the position: 6 to 12 months or more. It’s even more stunning to read that 50% of responding development directors plan to leave their jobs in two years or less. (Executive Directors plan to stick around longer!)

Why are development directors leaving? Some just don’t like the work. It’s just a job. So when you interview candidates, find this out. I recently helped an organization interview candidates for the chief development officer position. The organization used me to ask the right questions about fundraising body of knowledge and expertise and experience. But the organization knew the right questions to ask about commitment and leadership.

But I’m much more interested in the comments about how bad it is to work with some nonprofits. That’s what I observe as a consultant: the dysfunction and lack of readiness on the part of bosses and boards to create a culture of philanthropy and a culture of fund development. I get regular calls and emails from fundraisers who are tired of fighting and trying to make change within their organizations.

That’s the end of Part 1 of this 3-part blog. I’ll post Parts 2 and 3 during the week of January 21. The next two parts of this blog include the following topics: My various and sundry thoughts about why fundraisers leave their jobs. My various and sundry thoughts about bad bosses and boards and board members. My thoughts about fundraisers who don’t know the body of knowledge. And a few other thoughts, too.

So read Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. And figure out how you are going to change and help others change, too.

February 4, 2012

Board members

Need to be leaders

I talk lots about the difference between the board and its individual board members. Check out my blog archives. Check my NPQ columns. Download, study, use, and enforce the board job description and board member performance expectations on this website.

I want board members to behave as leaders. I expect board members to take the initiative and step up to the plate. I expect board members to inconvenience themselves on behalf of the organization. All that is part of leadership.

And part of board member leadership – for every single board member – is active participation in the philanthropic/fund development operation of the organization. Every single board member must give a personal financial contribution every single year, to the best of personal ability. Every single board member must help identify the predisposed and nurture relationships.

Yes, the board (the group, the collective) is responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient money, that the organization is financially sustainable. That’s part of corporate governance. And every single individual board member – as part of the governance group, the board – should demonstrate leadership in fund development.

January 28, 2012

Fix your board!

Or make your governance stronger

“Fix your board” is my shock and awe approach. Scandals in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors make governments nervous. And nervous people do not-so-good stuff. Look at what the U.S. Congress was thinking about a few years ago, led by Senator Grassley. And now, there’s Representative Charles Boustany. He thinks of himself as a prominent watchdog of nonprofit organizations. He wants the IRS to be more aggressive and go after nonprofits.

I don’t agree with the ill-informed governmental approaches at state and federal levels. But I sure understand their frustration at poorly governed nonprofits.

Wake up! Fix yourselves. Quit being an embarrassment to the rest of us. Your poor governance makes watchdogs like Boustany make ill-advised decisions.

If your board is more amenable to self-examination, learning, and possible change – then take the “make governance stronger” approach. Talk about the health check-up. No need for shock and awe when well-meaning people believe in continuous quality improvement.

Whichever way works for your organization — shock and awe or health check-up — do it. Do it now. You’ll find lots of resources in the Free Download Library on this website. Click on Resources. See the pull down menu. Then visit the board development/governance section.

July 31, 2011

Board members inconvenience themselves

Instead, a success

The best board members actually inconvenience themselves when they serve.

The best board members make every effort to attend board meetings. And, of course, the best board members come prepared – having read the materials and even made notes! The best board members bring the materials and are ready for conversation. Conversation! Not advocacy.

Sure, sometimes it’s inconvenient to be a board member. There was that performance you really wanted to attend. But there was a board meeting that evening. Your commitment to the board comes first, before the desire to attend the performance.

Your daughter plays soccer Saturday mornings. You always go. But not on the Saturday of the board retreat. Of course, if you’re on vacation, then you don’t attend the retreat. But please don’t schedule your vacation on the day that the retreat was scheduled – not unless you absolutely have to do so.

I talk with lots of organizations about good governance – and those wonderful board members who expect to inconvenience themselves on the organization’s behalf. I received a rather marvelous email from an organization after just such a talk. They wanted to share with me “the impact I had.” Here’s what I was told:

“We spoke with our board about our meeting with you and how helpful it was. And at the meeting, we learned that our always very committed former president took one of your recommendations literally and missed his 27th wedding anniversary to be present at our meeting. This sets the bar very high for all board members. We wanted to thank you again for inspiring this type of commitment. We keep trying to implement your recommendations and the board is going strong.”

Yes, I talk about board members caring enough to inconvenience themselves. I talk about board members missing birthdays and anniversaries – and celebrating them at another time – because committed professionals fulfill their obligations to the business.

Kudos to this organization. Kudos to that board member. (Who celebrated the anniversary on the weekend, I was told.)

February 26, 2010

Understanding the limits of your role

A pet peeve, too

“When people are passionate enough to give of their time, money and loyalty, it’s very difficult for them not to expect a platform for input and the respect of the decision-makers.” Brilliant insight from Mary at SMU, where I teach each summer.

I’m thinking of parents serving on that independent school board, or members of the YMCA who also serve on the board. Any board member anywhere.

During screening and recruitment, did you clearly explain to all candidates their scope of responsibility and the limits of their authority? Did you explain to them what the board talks about (governance) and what is a management issue? Do you regularly remind board members of authority and limits – governance and management – when you present issues and facilitate conversation?

Read more »

December 4, 2009

Board members who inconvenience themselves

Do you?

I was examining my own performance as a board member. I was thinking about all the board members I’ve known on the various boards for so many years. I asked myself: What do I expect of me, Simone? What do I expect of you as a fellow board member?

I expect you and me to willingly inconvenience ourselves for the organization and for the board. Too bad that it’s your birthday, go to the board meeting anyway. Too bad it’s your life partner’s birthday or your anniversary. Tough luck. Go to the board meeting. I expect you and me to schedule vacations to accommodate board meetings whenever possible. Same with business trips as possible. Go to the Saturday activity even though I’d rather read a novel. Help plan the special event even though I hate doing that.

I expect you and me to do stuff we don’t like for the organization and for the board – and wow that may be uncomfortable and it sure is inconvenient. You and me…ask tough questions and confront each other, graciously, but candidly.

Embrace inconvenience. It’s a tough life. Don’t serve as a board member if you’re looking for convenience and comfort.

And here’s another angle of inconvenience…last person standing. I heard a board member raise that concept. She articulated her expectations of fellow board members by asking: “Who will be the last person standing for this organization?” And she was hoping that it was more than one board member. She expected that more than one board member would do everything possible, would be there till the bitter end and beyond, would inconvenience themselves because they believed so strongly.

To what degree do you inconvenience yourself? Will you be one of the last people standing, even the very last one? If not, why are you on that board? Why are you on any board?

Get non-profit resources in your inbox