How to fix the fundraising leadership crisis

We have a problem in the fundraising world.

It’s certain bosses and board members.

They’re amateurs. And they don’t even know it.

Not all of them, of course. We have many amazing leaders who are making fundraising great.

But we also have so many leaders who base their decisions and judgments on hunches, instinct, guesses, and their personal preference. Not actual knowledge about effective fundraising.

So they routinely prevent or destroy effective fundraising. The cost of this isn’t measurable, but it must be in the billions of dollars in lost revenue every year.

I think most of those leaders would be horrified if they had any idea how much damage they were doing. Or if they could grasp how shockingly unprofessional their approach is.

So here’s the message nonprofit leaders need to hear, as outlined by the Fundraising Coach blog, at Leadership tensions in fundraising:

…nonprofit leaders need to learn from true fundraising experts, not lead based on personal preference. Can you imagine going into heart surgery and telling the surgeon how you’d prefer she’d use a different scalpel?

That’s the story we need to tell those leaders who keep getting it wrong.

Don’t go with what you believe is the right thing to do in fundraising.

That source of information is almost certainly wrong.

Go with what people who have actual and direct knowledge have to say. That’s not only going to raise a lot more money for your cause, but they can save you a lot of time, so you can be the leader your organization needs. Micromanaging really eats up your day, you know!

And if you have a boss who’s doing this, some responsibility falls on you to lead your leaders and help them do it right.

There’s a lot of great information out there, from the blogs and podcasts to the books, to the conferences. Get the good stuff in front of your leaders.

The result will make everyone succeed a lot more.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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