I remember when I was a newbie in the Fund Development biz. I was green, a sponge, and was fascinated by every faction of the nonprofit wheel. I still to the day, credit my entry into the field for providing me with the perfect entre. I was the assistant to a contracted Capital Campaign Consultant. I learned all the parts of the development program in less than six months. From organizing folders and files on the computer, to database input, queries and reports, to grant writing, to major gift solicitation and of course, working with the board as well as other staff members. I was hooked! I learned from the best and was a great student. However, when the contract was over and my first mentor moved on to his next contract, I was put on a shelf as if I had no worth, I was not a value-add. Upon reflecting on that stage, I often think of the famous scene from Dirty Dancing. I was put in a corner.
In any nonprofit that has a successful development (advancement, philanthropy, fundraising…) program, you’ll find integration. That is, Development is the center, the hub. Development needs to know the inner works of finance, i.e. costs of programs, capital needs and ROI of those components. In order to align organizational needs to the interests of funding sources, Development needs to know the intricacies of the programs. In order for the Development Program to be successful in identifying individual prospects, it needs a core of volunteers (ideally the Board of Directors). MOST importantly, the communication is two-way with each spoke actively participating.
Well that was over 20 years ago. Not only did I endure more of those moments, I witnessed so many of my professional colleagues weather those storms as well. The fact of the matter is, you can’t put Fund Development in the corner!
There is nothing more gratifying than working in a well-oiled machine, especially when YOU know you are the one that built the engine. Probably even greater, is when the other parts know it as well.
So to all my Development Peeps…get out of the corner! You are the hub.
Nobody puts DEVELOPMENT in the corner!