In small organizations, it is critical that everyone pitch in to ensure that things get done. This means that sometimes your title is not what dictates how you spend your time. Small organizations notoriously have fewer staff and each person is responsible for things that, traditionally, might not go along with their title, education, or background.
At my organization, there are 2.5 FTEs. This includes myself, my Executive Assistant, and we have a Development & Communication Coordinator. Generally speaking, myself and our coordinator are considered to be producers. We have specific expectations to engage donors and raise funds to
support our mission. My Executive Assistant, Peggy, technically, does not have the same expectations. She is not required to ask donors or prospects for money, write grants, etc. However, we are all fundraisers. Let me explain.
Fundraising goes beyond the act of solicitation. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, in most cases, before getting to the position of asking for support. For example, discovery and cultivation typically will occur prior to solicitation. We need to know that a prospective donor exists, and we must have some idea about their interests and their capacity. Peggy is important to
this process, as she handles prospect research and helps with managing certain communications and scheduling. Without those pieces, I would not be able to do my job effectively. Also, when a donor has lapsed, I will often find that out because of a report that I received from Peggy. Upon receipt, we develop a strategy to reach out to that donor and find out how we can obtain their continued support. Lastly, Peggy is the first person our donors and prospects speak to when they visit our office or call on the telephone. It is critical that they be treated well because that is part of the process by which they will develop their opinions of our organization, and whether or not they wish to work with us.
In your small organization, who are the fundraisers who do not know they are fundraisers? How about your finance professionals? Whether they are the CFO, Controller, Bookkeeper or Finance Manager, typically one of their roles will be to ensure that your vendors get paid on time. If you are working on a project and hope to discuss a gift with one of your vendors, they are more likely to be open to a conversation about a charitable gift if they did not have to take you to collections over their last invoice. Or, consider your custodian.
Part of the custodian’s job is to make sure that your building is maintained properly. When you have a donor come to do a tour and discuss a gift to fund a critical expansion, one of the things they might consider is how well you steward your facility. So your custodian is a key part of communicating your brand to donors, customers and the public.
Regardless of our title, we are all fundraisers. Those in leadership are responsible to ensure that everyone on the team knows their role so that together, working in concert, the resources to fund the mission can be developed.
Best wishes for successful campaigns this year.