Being an Executive Director, Development Director or Board Chair can leave you feeling lonely. It can feel like there are no ‘safe’ people to talk to. No one to vent to (without fear of reprisal), no one who really understands everything that goes in to leading, or raising money for, a nonprofit organization. (Of course there are nonprofits who buck this trend. And if you’re in one of those functional nonprofit workplaces, congratulations. You can stop reading right now.)
Now, for the rest of us still reading. You don’t need to do it on your own. And things don’t need to stay this way.
One of the great things about working in the nonprofit world is that we can recruit others to help – and we don’t need to work completely on our own. And while there are certain topics that shouldn’t come up between staff members and board members, there are plenty of very appropriate topics (of course fundraising being one of those).
Earlier this week, I talked about Recruiting Your Fundraising Champion(s) on a webinar. Many of us are familiar with thinking about Linkage, Ability and Interest when it comes to looking for potential major donors. These are also important things to think about as it relates to your fundraising champion. An additional factor to consider is whether or not your prospective champion has the right connections – with the right people – to influence other major gifts.
And just in case these terms are new to you, here’s a brief introduction to them:
- Linkage: Is the person fairly closely linked to your organization already? This could be through a person or through their relationship with the organization. And by the way, even if there is no existing relationship, there’s no reason why you can’t reach out and start developing a relationship.
- Ability: Does the person have the capacity to give a gift in an amount appropriate to the champion of your fundraising efforts. This does mean that your champion should be able to give an amount that is among the top few donors of the organization.
- Interest: Is this person interested in your cause. If their passion is for helping people overcome homelessness, then an arts group might not be the best fit.
- Connections: Is this person connected with others who might be able to give large gifts (as defined by your organization – this could range from $250 to $100,000 depending on the definition of your organization).
But, I hear you saying, having more people around doesn’t necessarily help with that feeling of being alone. Not having a safe person to talk to can lead to feelings of isolation, which can lead to a martyr complex. Which eventually leads to burnout. And that certainly won’t help the people your organization is trying to positively impact.
If you find yourself in that situation. Please reach out. I’d love to talk with you more. Perhaps you can take a little encouragement from knowing that you really aren’t alone in this.