I keep reading that the practice of medicine has changed radically.
Family doctors are getting hard to find. It seems we live in an age of specialists.
As the development director, it’s natural to assume your job is to be the organization’s fundraising specialist – the person with a particular craft and knowledge about raising money.
And of course, you need to be.
But I think fundraisers are actually more family doctor than specialist.
Here’s why: to be effective, we have to look at the organization as a whole.
We can’t raise money without diagnosing issues in organizational structure, board effectiveness, budgeting, and communications.
I’ve often been in staff meetings where everyone focuses on their particular tasks, and how those intersect with the organization. And I realize each time that I’m thinking about it all just the other way around.
Do we need to raise more money?
- Well, ok, then we need a functional, trained and enthusiastic board.
- We need an organizational structure that supports our programs and distributes resources logically.
- We need programs that move our mission forward.
- We need program staff to share great stories and collect accurate data.
- And we need great communications.
That means, to me, no tail wagging the dog. No tactics before strategy.
We need a clear vision of the organization, and the language to talk about it with.
Who are we? Why do we do what we do?
When there are holes in any of these areas, fundraising is hard to impossible.
So to colleagues in finance or programming or communications, to board members: we’re not trying to be busy-bodies.
We’re not trying to overstep our bounds. And we don’t want your job.
But we do need to understand your job. And we do need to know we’re all working well together.
Because without you, we can’t do our job.