The Effective Development Program; Ten Essentials for Success
There are many factors spelling success for development programs at nonprofits. Development here means the larger, always increasing building of constituency, reinforcing brand, motivating volunteers, inspiring donors and increasing fundraising totals.
Ten of these factors appear essential, are measurable and, thus, may be continuously improved.
Here are the ten:
1. The essential agreement among Board members, executive directors and development directors on their respective roles in the development process. While this may vary from organization to organization, the elements of Board participation, executive director leadership and development director management of the process must all be present.
2. Effective, experienced personnel with long tenure led by an executive with vision-both short and long-term. Such leadership involves encouragement of learning, staff training, sabbaticals, organizational development and continuous quality improvement. (See my article on the Ten Conditions for Success in Fundraising.)
3. Creation of a culture of philanthropy, which includes a deep understanding of the nonprofit’s mission. Responsibility for development must permeate the entire board, staff and volunteers. Careful training, with built-in rewards, gradually builds this internal culture to the point that affects external constituency as well. (See We Are All Development Officers.)
4. Deep understanding of donors, their values and their needs. Knowledge that development is largely about “you, the constituent” not “us, the nonprofit.” Ability to segment donors into areas and reasons for their interest and then successfully to appeal to these segmented groups.
5.Continuous communication with donor-centered messaging. Penetration into constituents’ values and needs. motivating them to be positively disposed to work of nonprofit.
6. Effective optimization of various methods is always present. From social media to telemarketing to planned giving to peer solicitation, and everything in between, the office optimizes the methods of development that fit the values of the constituents.
7. Continuous quality improvement is part of what is essentially a learning organization. From the use of measurement and analysis of big data to the conducting of small experiments, and pilots, the organization is continuously changing and getting more effective and efficient.
8 Motivated volunteers are a hallmark of the organization. Volunteers are and will continue to be essential in a complete and mature development program. From excited board members to enthusiastic builders of constituency, the volunteer often makes the difference in the ability to reach out in-depth to its various constituencies.
9. Much of the above enthusiasm, if effective, seeps out in numerous ways to motivate donors. Enthusiasm about mission is infectious and the best way to build constituency, thus increasing donors, fans, friends and supporters in the various arenas in which a nonprofit operates.
10. Above all, all of these integrated factors result in increasing annual funding, growing memberships and over-the-top capital campaigns. Progressively increasing totals, number of donors as well as financial totals, year to year are the true mark of the successful program.
Most organizations are capable of this level of achievement; however, fewer and fewer are achieving this success. There are a number of reasons why. Some are obvious, some are not. I would be interested in your comments on why we are not all achieving this level of resource stability and growth.