Strategy Lessons to Learn from Congress

madison-in-congress

On April 17th, the Gun Bill was defeated in the U.S. Senate preventing the effort from moving forward to the House.  News reports say that 90% of Democrats voted for the Bill while 90% of Republicans voted against.  The result left the effort 6 votes short.

Those opposing the Bill stand by the 2nd Amendment in that U.S. citizens “have the right to bear arms”.   But let’s remember when the Bill of Rights was proposed and enacted.  It was proposed in 1789 and came into effect December 15, 1791.

What would happen if businesses maintained the same strategies that they adopted in 1791?  What would happen if nonprofit organization maintained the original missions they committed to in 1791?  The answer is none of those entities would be relevant (or in existence) today.

When I work with my nonprofit clients about adopting strategies that incorporate change, I regularly face pushback.  I have been informed many times that “changes happens slowly here” and “we can’t force change because we’ll loose people” and many other reasons why change can occur.  I respond to all of these comments the same way, “Don’t change so slowly that you, your mission, and your organization’s purpose becomes irrelevant”. 

This post is not meant to blast Congress or to advocate for gun control.  It is simply to an appeal to adopt a practice of strategic thinking for the current day and those days to come.

Extremely Disturbing

“Extremely disturbing” said my internal voice after reviewing the recently released study, “Underdeveloped – A National Study of Challenges Facing nonprofit Fundraising” by the Evelyn & Walter HAAS Jr. Fund and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services. 

Click Here to access the report.

Per the report, the study “reveals that many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed.”

The study illustrates that Development Director turnover is not only high, but the qualified talent pool is insufficient to meet the demands of specific nonprofits. It also indicates that Development Directors lack the skills necessary (according to the Executive Directors) to do their jobs and that the smaller nonprofits loose out to the larger nonprofits in the competition for more seasoned development professionals.

I have a deep commitment to advance my profession.  I am involved as a donor and volunteer with many nonprofit organizations.  I am deeply devoted to the nonprofit for which I raise money.  With that said, the initial findings do not surprise me. What did surprise me were the huge, shocking numbers behind the study.

The number of nonprofit organizations has steadily increased over the last 10 years. As federal deficit woes and public sector greed continues, the need for nonprofits is going to increase. With that will be a need for a true understanding of philanthropy, and how to recruit it.

Below are some actions that nonprofits, professionals and volunteers can take immediately to reserved the trends outlined in the study.

  1. Understand the Executive Director’s Role in Fundraising. The ED/CEO must have a true, up-to-date understanding about philanthropy, the process, and the philosophy. Go to your local Association of Fundraising Professionals (www.afpnet.org) to seek low cost professional education resources.
  2. Go for the CFRE. This credential, Certified Fundraising Executive, is the only standard to verify that a development professional has met the criteria and continually meets the criteria of a qualified fundraiser (see www.CFRE.org). If you are a development professional, work toward earning and maintaining this standard. If you are a hiring manager or Executive Director or Board Member make sure you give first priorities to CFRE candidates.
  3. Provide an Environment for Learning – Smaller organizations can get a huge benefit from hiring the right candidate with less skills as long as they provide for professional development via a professional organization or certificate program (located at many colleges and universities).
  4. Embrace the term, “Development is not a Department” – The development director is the operations manager of the development program, however, it is the executive team, the line staff and the volunteers that help to connect prospective donors to the organization.

I would love to hear other professionals’ insights about ways to combat this trend. This is an issue that is not going away, so let’s all dig in and make this profession successful. Our economy is counting on it!