If you missed Culture Problem #1: We don’t own it, be sure to check it out! Here’s #2: We don’t master it…
Ask any nonprofit employer & they’ll tell you that when budgets are tight, staff training and development is often the first budget item to be cut. It’s a nice to have, not a must have. And that’s the result of a sector-wide broken mindset.
Nonprofit leaders often tell me that they are ALL about their people. Their people make them unique. People make them effective. They exist to serve people, and they do that through personal relationships. But when it comes down to it, many nonprofits do a horrible job of developing and equipping their people for success.
This goes deeper than simple job training though. We also see it in the practical application of fundraising and marketing strategy and tactics every day. Because many nonprofits don’t take strategic ownership of their programs, instead preferring to outsource everything, they also don’t often participate deeply in the process. And like any other skill, if you don’t practice it regularly, you can’t develop the muscles necessary for success.
When we don’t take care to develop internal expertise in philanthropy the same way we might in social work, finance, or any other subject matter inside a nonprofit, we fail our constituents, our donors, our staff, and the community.
Unfortunately, in many nonprofits the term philanthropy, or fundraising, are dirty words. I like to say that for a lot of nonprofit CEO’s, fundraising is the “other” F-word. And because of that, the skills needed to master fund development aren’t prioritized. After all, if everyone hates doing this work, why would we invest our time and resources to get better at it? Why not just hire an outsider to do it for us so we don’t have to deal with it?
If you want your organization to thrive instead of just surviving in today and tomorrow’s economic climates, where donors are becoming more selective by the day, and the fight for charitable dollars is more complex than ever, you have to create a culture where mastery of fundraising strategy and execution is expected and rewarded. Succeed at this, and you can fuel significant growth for your organization and your cause.