Help! My boss wrecks our fundraising every time! 3 things you can do

It happens all the time: Executive directors, presidents and vice presidents, board members — people who have the power to change your fundraising — can’t keep their hands off, and they don’t understand the damage they’re doing to it.

It’s hard, because they’re used to being asked for their opinions. And they’re used to being right — at least perceived as right. It’s even more difficult when they come from backgrounds other than fundraising.

The conventions of fundraising can look wrong to them. Not knowing otherwise, they may think you’re getting the message horribly wrong. Screwing it up in a way that’ll not only fail to raise money, but do other damage as well. That haunts them.

Their fear is your point of leverage with them: They have skin in the game. Probably more than you do. The way to win them over is to reassure them with facts:


  1. Show them books and blogs about fundraising. They need to see that you aren’t making up this crazy stuff: Fundraising has a body of professional knowledge that you understand and practice. Give them a short reading list. If that’s too much, make it easy by marking and highlighting key passages that address the issues that trouble them.
  2. Test. Let them see firsthand that best-practice fundraising really works. If your quantities are too small to yield statistically significant results, test anyway. It’ll show them that the disasters they fear aren’t going to happen. Your offer to test may persuade them you know what you’re doing and they can relax, more confident in your work.
  3. Try to discuss best practices away from the craziness of getting projects finished. The urgency you’re under makes clear thinking more difficult. Talk about it when cool heads (including yours) are on duty and rational discussions are possible.

I wish I could tell you this will work for sure. I can’t. I can say that it might work, especially over time, to get the boss off of the path of destruction.

It won’t work for everyone. And if you have one of those bosses who can’t listen, who keeps on ruining your fundraising and finds everything else in the world to blame other than himself — you should probably move along. We need your talent. And you can find bosses who won’t ruin it.


Comments

4 responses to “Help! My boss wrecks our fundraising every time! 3 things you can do”

  1. Here are some additional things to consider when it seems like the boss is “ruining” your fundraising — 1) Consider that your CEO and Board are looking at a bigger picture than just fundraising alone. As a fundraiser, it’s easy to get tunnel-vision. And perhaps your Boss’ approach balances and helps achieve multiple objectives. 2) Consider that a CEO or Board member might actually be smater than you, or at least knows a lot about things you don’t. There’s usually a reason they got to where they are. There are bad incompetent bosses yes, but there are also bad and incompetent fundraisers too. Which kind are you being? And 3) It’s always good to listen and take into consideration the opinions of others. That’s what being smart is really all about. And if those opinions are held by your CEO or Board, and you want to be both smart and keep your job, it’s a really good idea to listen.

  2. Here are some additional things to consider when it seems like the boss is “ruining” your fundraising — 1) Consider that your CEO and Board are looking at a bigger picture than just fundraising alone. As a fundraiser, it’s easy to get tunnel-vision. And perhaps your Boss’ approach balances and helps achieve multiple objectives. 2) Consider that a CEO or Board member might actually be smater than you, or at least knows a lot about things you don’t. There’s usually a reason they got to where they are. There are bad incompetent bosses yes, but there are also bad and incompetent fundraisers too. Which kind are you being? And 3) It’s always good to listen and take into consideration the opinions of others. That’s what being smart is really all about. And if those opinions are held by your CEO or Board, and you want to be both smart and keep your job, it’s a really good idea to listen.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog