You know your fundraising plans are bang on, but are faced with a management team that resists your ideas. This is a pickle in every industry, but can be a real challenge in the fundraising field.
Part of the reason is that fundraising best practices are not always widely understood, so your boss might think your suggestions are deranged. Another tricky bit is that many fundraisers do not have the same targeted educational background as other specialists. For example: You are working as a brain surgeon and tell your hospital’s CEO that you need sharper scalpels. Is that CEO going to second-guess you? No sir! But if you’re a fundraiser with a Bachelor of Arts in Italian Studies (ahem) the boss may be more reluctant to accept your advice.
- Get that education, and be loud about it! Go to every seminar, course, webinar and conference you can get your mitts on. Go to meetup.com and find local professional groups to join. Get a membership with your city’s AFP chapter. And most importantly, share your new-found information with your boss and colleagues. If you don’t share your new-found skills, how can they recognize you as the new team expert?
- Or, skip the education and just sign up for some good online information sources. Simply keeping up with evolving best practices and new ideas in the sector will increase your perceived (and actual) knowledge value at work. But once again, don’t hide that little light under a rock – educate the whole team by sharing the information.
- Or skip the first two solutions and bring in an “expert.” You will look like a hero if you contact a colleague to speak pro bono at your next fundraising meeting. Pick a trusted contact with experience and good presentation skills to talk about the ideas your management team doesn’t understand. There is nothing more highly valued than the opinion of a complete stranger! A side bonus for the colleague is that she’ll get experience in professional presentations that will help build her own career.
Note that solution #3 works incredibly well for fundraising managers and executive directors looking to educate board members. Board volunteers often have minimal knowledge (and maximum fear) of fundraising. Throw them a bone by backing up your great suggestions with information from outside sources. Have fun!
– Siobhan : )
PS. Wouldn’t it be fun to sign up for this blog and never miss another post? Skip up to the top of the page and enter your email. Only good things will happen.