By Mel and Pearl Shaw
The most effective leaders we have met keep their long term vision in focus. They simultaneously take advantage of immediate opportunities and build capacity for the long term. These individuals have an understanding of the environment they are operating within and are always building relationships that bring their organization closer to realizing their future vision. They know everything won’t happen by Friday.
Patience and time are two resources required for success within the nonprofit sector. At the same time, these are perceived as being in short supply. We encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the goals you set for yourself and your organization. Examine whether these are realistic and achievable. Do you have the time, money, resources and relationships you need to reach your goals? Are you falling prey to messages focused on accelerated innovation and reinvention without determining whether these are the right foci for your organization at this point in time?
Here are three things to consider as you set goals and milestones for your organization and its fundraising.
- Planning and patience are attributes the CEO, board members, key volunteers and donors must learn to value. Give yourself enough lead time to plan, cultivate, build capacity and infrastructure, develop budgets, grow a pool of volunteers, develop staff, conduct research, and position your organization within the marketplace. Take time to build agreement amongst board members, staff and key volunteers regarding the milestones the organization is working towards. These need to extend beyond financial goals.
- Start small and plan big. Set realistic goals. You can’t go from raising $10,000 a year to raising $1 million, even if that is the true need of your organization. It typically takes three to four years for an organization to reach its potential internally and within the market. During that time period you need to attract the people, resources and relationships you will need for optimum operations. This will require that you define your organization’s uniqueness, create financial models, develop partnerships and collaborations, and attract board members who believe in and are qualified to deliver on the organization’s vision.
- Give your organization enough time to develop a track record that includes short term successes for board members, staff and volunteers. Develop your talent. If your organization is personality driven – dependent upon the talents of one individual – it is in jeopardy, even though you may appear to be succeeding. You want a “bench” and a “team” – a group of talented individuals with diverse skills who are trusted to represent the organization and its vision. Surround your organization with people who can serve as ambassadors, and introduce your team to community stakeholders and potential funders. All of this takes – you guessed it – time.
We encourage you to define your long term vision and keep it in front of you. Develop patience, consistently plan and adapt, and build relationships. Give yourself and your team time.
Mel and Pearl Shaw are authors of four books on fundraising available on Amazon.com. For help growing your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.