VOL. 133 | NO. 155 | Tuesday, August 7, 2018
FUNdraising Good Times
Pearl and Mel Shaw
Stop or Go? What Move to Make During Leadership Transition
Mel and Pearl Shaw
Should you stop your fundraising when your organization has a leadership change? Slow it down? When do you put on the brakes?
Part two of a two-part series
Part one of this series provided recommendations for how to assess green lighting your fundraising. In this column we offer examples of when you might decide to pause your fundraising. There is no formula for how to make these decisions. What is most important is that leadership carefully evaluate the organization’s financial health and the reality of its fundraising position given the change in leadership. When choosing to move forward with fundraising, you have to make sure your team is willing and able. When choosing to stop or pause you need know the financial impact and what adjustments are neededneeded.
Yellow light, red light.
Consider placing certain elements of your fundraising on hold if you find yourself in the following situation(s).
• You don’t have a solid plan to guide your fundraising. You may be in a situation where the person(s) who are leaving were the “rainmakers” for the organization. You may not have been working from a plan because you could depend on the relationships and history that your executive staff or board had built. In many cases people give to people. But if there isn’t a plan that documents your fundraising processes you may have to regroup and regrow your fundraising when your “people” leave.
• Your remaining leadership is not committed to fundraising and has not been engaged in cultivation and solicitation activities. In situations similar to the one above, board members and other members of the executive team may have had the “luxury” of not having to focus on fundraising. It takes time for people to understand the fundraising process, to build relationships with donors and funders, and to become comfortable and knowledge enough to cultivate and solicit donors.
• You don’t have staff who can step in and keep things moving. The loss of a development director can put an organization into a tailspin. Questions arise: “How do I run reports?” “Do you remember how much Ms. Jones pledged during the last campaign?” “Who is working on our gala?” If your organization hasn’t developed a culture of shared knowledge, teamwork, and documented processes it may be hard for even the most well-intentioned person to “step in and step up.”
Other issues that may cause you to exercise caution include a lack of confidence in the plan, leadership and staff; increased competition in the marketplace; lack of clarity on what you are raising money for; low morale amongst leadership and constituency; and/or a lack of awareness both internally and externally.
Other reasons for caution could include the reality that you are running an underfunded – or unfunded - campaign; you are already behind on implementing the current fundraising plan; there is a lack of confidence in the remaining board leadership and staff; and/or the uncertainty that people are expressing regarding the direction the organization will take with new leadership.
Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.