March 29, 2013, 2:02 pm
When was the last time you hit the road with your board? Whether you go across town or around the world, a mission trip brings the board together in a unique and wonderful way that pays dividends for years to come.
Last year my husband Frank, and I went to Costa Rica with the board of the Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. My natural habitat is a mall, and I’m terrified of snakes. But as a board member, I committed to going to Costa Rica every other year on my dime. And on this trip, I was with a group of people who lived to see the deadly viper fer-de-lance.
Board members brought spouses and children. Our kids were not available because of work commitments, so we brought Emilio, our little brother from Big Brothers Big Sisters. The trip was magical. By the time we got home, we were planning the next trip and Frank had started studying Spanish. After the trip, board …
February 11, 2013, 4:58 pm
Board membership and fundraising go hand in hand, but all too often, trustees don’t think that way.
Sometimes that’s because they joined when the criteria for board membership were either unclear or didn’t involve fundraising. But times have changed, and raising money is harder than it used to be for a lot of groups:
- Charities that used to receive significant government financial support, which has decreased or vanished.
- Organizations that have more competition than they used to. An executive director I worked with years ago said, “It used to be so easy to bring in money. It felt like people would just slow to 30 and throw bags of money out the car window.”
- Nonprofits that have significant endowments that sank like a rock during the last recession.
- Charities with an aging donor base that didn’t get on the planned-giving bandwagon and didn’t replace aging donors…
December 3, 2012, 12:30 pm
I love tradition. As long as it doesn’t involve too much decorating, cooking, or detail work. Martha Stewart never loses sleep worrying that I might encroach on her holiday empire.
I heard of the most wonderful holiday tradition at lunch recently. Kathy Meath, president of the St. Louis Arc, told me that a former board member started a tradition of going to a diner a few weeks before Christmas with some friends and each leaving a hundred dollar bill for the waitress. The trick was to sneak out before they were spotted. The board member has since passed away, but the tradition remains. The participants leave a note for the waitress that this gift is in honor of their deceased friend.
It is harder to get away without being noticed since the group doesn’t walk as fast. In fact, one is in a wheelchair. Last year, the waitress ran after them, crying, to say that she and her daughter…
October 31, 2012, 2:40 pm
Do any of these describe you?
- You spend more the 50 percent of your therapy session talking about fundraising.
- Your efforts to get board members to help raise money are so unpleasant, you find yourself daydreaming of the good old days when you were on the front lines in the Vietnam War.
- You have gained more than 30 pounds, tripled your alcohol consumption, or taken up smoking over the age of 40.
- You and a co-worker are thinking of leaving together. The only thing you haven’t decided is who will be Thelma and who will be Louise.
If any of these sound familiar, you may be suffering from burnout.
It surprises some people that burnout occurs in fundraisers. After all, they are not making the big bucks, and they are on the side of the angels. But burnout is real, and it affects the mental and physical health of people who raise money just like anybody else….
October 12, 2012, 11:18 am
You hear it all the time: Experienced executives fretting, obsessing, and despairing about finding great development staff. Yet development directors have horror stories about employment situations that lead them to carbohydrates and medication and that eventually send them out the door.
Here are five mistakes I see boards and executives make that ensure their development director will leave.
1. Pay a ridiculous salary. A friend recently pointed out an ad on Craigslist for a development director. The position requires an MBA and five years’ experience or a Certified Fund Raising Certificate. There is a list of 15 responsibilities, including manage all aspects of individual giving, manage Web site, lead $3-million capital campaign, design and write the newsletter, recruit and manage volunteers, represent the agency at community events, and the list goes on. Salary: $40,000. I mean…