As the CEO, the leader of your nonprofit, how much time are you really giving to fundraising?

As the top leaders, the organization will follow your lead. You should be involving all your direct reports in some aspect of fundraising. And an easy way to do that is if they see that fundraising is important enough for you to give it time every week.

If you’re like most CEOs, you started last year with good intentions. But those got drowned out by the competing demands on your time.

One of those good intentions was likely setting specific time for fundraising. 

A nonprofit CEO who won’t learn fundraising is like a shop owner who keeps organizing the shelves but won’t learn sales.

How do you know how much time for fundraising is right? 

Here are a few ideas to help you figure out what’s right for you:

  1. Look at your typical time given to fundraising last year and add an hour.
  2. Figure out how long it takes to call 10 people – looking up their number, dialing, leaving a message or speaking with them, recording a note in your donor database. Then block that time. I find it takes me an average of 6 – 10 minutes. So 10 calls taking 10 minutes each would be just about 2 hours. Schedule that time on your calendar.
  3. Figure out how important fundraising is to your nonprofit. If you are worried about how you’ll pay the bills, then I suggest you make sure most of your time is given to fundraising: researching donors, engaging and qualifying prospects, asking donors, and thanking. Most of your time means most of each day. Especially if you’re a nonprofit where you’re the only staff. But whatever size of your staff, if you lead an organization that depends on donated revenue, you need to become good at generating donated revenue. You can’t farm this out entirely. You need to learn how fundraising works. What donors respond to. How to communicate with respect to your staff and the people you help while being compelling to donors. As a leader, you need to lead.
  4. My friend Jay Love says that a CEO should be calling every single donor over the nonprofit’s average gift amount. Every single donor. Jay says CEOs should be personally making those calls until it’s taking up 50% of their time. Not 50% of their fundraising time – 50% of their ENTIRE time. Are you committed enough to making those calls? Time spent thanking donors is the best investment you can make. Finding new donors is pointless if you’re not keeping the donors you already have. 

Leaders need to lead

A nonprofit CEO who won’t learn fundraising is like a shop owner who keeps organizing the shelves but won’t learn sales. 

You’ll go out of business.

So, this week, block specific times on your calendar. And work with your coach or peers to hold yourself accountable.

The world needs what your organization provides. Learn how to be an organization that stays in business.

You’ve been Kicked!


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