This column is especially for nonprofit CEOs: we know you have to secure buy-in from your leadership, but how exactly do you do that?
If you’re going to be successful at fundraising, you can’t go it alone. At a minimum, the CEO and the board need to be working together. But how does that happen? You can say “I want your buy-in” or you can demonstrate that your vision is feasible, and that partnership will make it even better. Here are a few ways that your words and actions can encourage buy-in.
Be visionary, innovative, and creative. These are not qualities that belong to “someone else.” We know you have it. Find that part of you that can see beyond budgets, deadlines, and to-do lists. Look at the big picture, look to the future. Imagine the best for your organization and act from that place. One way you do that is in how you communicate – do you lead with inspiration, or the challenges you are facing? Do you share the news of your nonprofit, or do you talk about everything other than your work, vision, and impact? You don’t have to monopolize or dominate every conversation, just make it your business to share what’s up. You can do that by posing a question, “Ramel, I’m thinking we could restructure our senior program. Can I share my ideas with you? Your experience will help me clarify my thinking.”
Imagine that conversation, and then imagine the CEO who is constantly struggling and communicating that “my board just doesn’t get involved,” or “no one wants to give to us.” Do you want to be the person who is always fighting resistance, or do you want to welcome solutions? At the end of the day you want to assure your board members that you can and will be successful. Here are a few more things that can give your board (and others) comfort.
Work from a plan, and don’t change it every two months. Nurture your relationships across the community. Call on others when you need help and be there when others need you. Support your peers and welcome new leaders to the community. Create awareness for your nonprofit; find ways to share your story and impact. Know who to call within the local media to suggest a story or request coverage, and sustain those relationships. Know what you are raising money for. Not just how much you need, but how the money will be allocated and what the anticipated impact will be.
Finally, manage your fundraising operation. If you don’t know fundraising, learn it. Talk with other CEOs to learn how they manage their operations. Talk with your development team regularly, learning how they are advancing, what they are focused on, and the role you need to play. Actively raise funds for your organization, create ways for people to join with you, and lift up those who join in. Make it all about the success of others, not about your personal success. One person can only do so much – lift up those around you.
[Copyright 2021 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Video and phone conferencing services always available. Let us help you grow your fundraising. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com. ]