Tackling the Tough Questions

Last week the DMA Nonprofit Federation held their annual Leadership Summit in Palm Beach, Florida. As you can see below, the topics were timely and varied. Melissa Busch, the associate senior editor of FundRaising Success Magazine was on the scene, and we have linked to several of her articles for a conference round-up. Topic descriptions are from the official program.

The Business of Fundraising: How Does the Influx of Corporate People and Business Models Help or Hurt Nonprofit Fundraising:

You’ve heard the debate: A more corporate model can help nonprofits run more like businesses! But wait! Won’t that suck the heart and soul right out of the charitable sector?

Melissa writes: “Behaving like a business can have some real benefits for nonprofit organizations.”

The Costs of Fundraising: How do I Keep the Lights on and the Staff Paid without Running Afoul of the Watchdogs?

Feeding the hungry … housing the homeless … curing a dreaded disease. They’re all a lot sexier reasons for donating to a charity than paying the electric bill. But the fact remains that if every donation was restricted, many nonprofits would be closing their doors.

In an article titled Rating Charities, Melissa writes: “Nonprofit professionals say charity watchdog groups like Charity Navigator, which aim to ensure nonprofits are financially responsible, don’t give donors a clear picture of an organization’s effectiveness.

Watchdog groups look at an organization’s tax records (the 990 form) and little else in determining its rating…”

And lastly,

Leading Our Leaders: How do I Get Buy-In from the Top for My Great Ideas, Innovation Strategies and Fearless Fundraising Efforts?

You know how it goes: You and your staff spend half a year brainstorming the next great fundraising strategy for your organization, and then another six months outlining it, researching it and preparing to let it fly. Only to find that your board thinks it’s a big old waste of time and money, and your executive director agrees. But you might not be as far apart as it seems.

Melissa summarizes these ten suggestions for getting the OK for new ideas:

  • Make time. If you can’t, no one else will.
  • Sell your idea! If you don’t believe it, no one else will.
  • Build consensus with key stakeholders and senior staff.
  • Utilize outsiders like consultants, colleagues and case studies.
  • Arm yourself with facts and figures.
  • Start small — prove you can deliver and then go for the gusto.
  • Offer options … [and remember that] multiple choice doesn’t have to include “no.”
  • When it really matters, choose face-to-face conversation [rather than phone or e-mail].
  • Bottom line: What’s the cost? What’s the return?
  • Don’t give up! Perseverance and persistence always prevail.