Nonprofit Management - Set Goals and Be Available to Support Fundraising

If you supervise at least one fundraising staff person, you are a manager and a leader. Your team looks to you for guidance, support, and advice. Are you managing and leading effectively? Position yourself for successful fundraising by setting goals and being available to your team.

First:  Set Goals and Be Clear with Expectations

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We all feel most comfortable and perform best when we know what is expected of us. Your direct report fundraiser – let’s call her Sally – is no different, so be clear about the expectations for Sally’s position. A good place to begin communicating expectations is a job description.

There are plenty of job description templates available online, including this one from A basic job description should include the job title, position description, responsibilities (both general and specific), and job requirements (education and experience).

In addition to a job description, Sally should have goals (quarterly or annually) and metrics to measure them. It’s generally good practice for Sally to develop her own goals (rather than you drafting them for her). Sally will better understand the expectations and be more invested in the outcomes if she is part of the process from the beginning.

Each goal should be linked to appropriate metrics. For example, if one annual goal is to raise $50,000 from foundation grants, the metrics might include:

  • Research at least 20 foundations, including review of guidelines and talking with a foundation rep, as appropriate
  • Submit at least 12 grants to foundations
  • Ensure at least one grant application is a request for $20,000 or more
  • For any grant that is awarded, set a timeline for interim and final reports
  • Track all foundation grant activity in donor database

You will provide final approval, adjusting goals and metrics as needed. Goals should be challenging yet do-able. In my experience staff members will rise to the challenge of high expectations. High expectations yield high results!

Employees generally like to learn new things and appreciate intellectual stimulation. Take Note – you don’t want your top staff person looking for another job because he or she is bored!

Next:  Be Available to Guide, Support and Advise

After you are clear on job descriptions, goals and metrics, it’s time to guide and support your staff to success. People require different types and degrees of management. If Sally is new in her career she may need extra guidance on how to approach problems, how to manage her time and how to juggle conflicting priorities.

A more seasoned staffer may benefit from a hands-off approach; perhaps weekly meetings and not much more. In either case you should make yourself available to help talk through challenges in real time in order to keep projects moving forward.

Particularly when supervising fundraisers, you’ll want to help put things in perspective and in a positive light. Fundraisers can hear “no” quite often, even when they are doing everything right. It’s important to stay positive and be sure that Sally does not take personally a donor’s decision not to fund your organization.

A word of warning:  Although you want to be available for staff, you need to set boundaries to protect your work time. One staffer who likes to chat about every detail of his four-day weekend can sabotage your whole day.

What are your suggestions for leading effectively?

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