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The Nonprofit HandbookFund Raising (AFP/Wiley Fund Development Series), 2002 Supplement
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-471-41939-7
Chapter One13A Taking Your Fund Development Program to the Next Level
Barbara R. Levy, ACFRE Arizona's Children Foundation
13A.2 Core Values
13A.3 Attainment of the Next Level Begins with Assessment (a) Personal Assessment (b) Assessment of the Current Environment
13A.4 Defining the Next Level (a) The Big Picture (b) Components of Infrastructure
13A.5 Defining the Market Strategy (a) Marketing Misconceptions (b) Marketing-The Process
13A.6 Putting It All Together Suggested Readings
One of the greatest challenges we face in the not-for-profit sector is taking a fundraising program to the next level. The overarching challenge is how to enhance and modify those skill sets that helped to get us to the first level of success. John Cundiff (Market Advantage Technologies, Inc.) succinctly illustrates this aspect when he states, "Habits allow for success at one level but, at the same time, limit the possibilities for a new level of achievement." With further thought, you will realize that no one person can direct or control the process of taking a program to the next level.
However, the development professional is well qualified to collaborate with organizational leadership and to facilitate this exceedingly complex process.There is neither a quick-fix solution nor a one-size-fits-all process. Perhaps this accounts for the limited number of organizations that successfully transition through their various formative stages of organizational development to become the revered institutional icons of our communities. As complex and all-encompassing as the process may be, the proposed journey is critical to the future survival of your organization and the services it provides your community.
This chapter will comment on the components of evaluating the current level of your fund development program and will address the attributes and strengths you personally bring to your work. It will challenge some of the perceptions held by you, your board, your program, and your development staff. And finally, it will provide suggested principles, concepts, and processes that will enable your journey.
No one can provide a step-by-step methodology to take your program to the next level. The process is not linear. It involves the components and characteristics of each organization and will naturally vary significantly from organization to organization. The design and desired outcome are developed through an ongoing process of conversation and dialogue influenced by leadership, culture, and a number of driving forces.
Some of the illustrations in this chapter are drawn from the for-profit sector. Though the not-for-profit sector has much to offer its counterpart in producing astounding accomplishments on extremely limited funding, it has much to learn from the costly research and development of its for-profit counterparts. Companies such as 3M, Hewlett-Packard, Wal-Mart, and Sony provide some exceptionally valuable examples of the best practice in team building, risk taking, and visioning. Their practices are definitely adaptable to not-for-profit organizations.
Although written for the more experienced development professional, the concepts herein are just as applicable to the newcomer. Adoption may simply involve minor modification in some areas, depending upon the size and scope of an organization. Regardless of the level of experience, there is one mandatory requirement for any organization that expects to move ahead in fund development or any other area. That is the articulation of core values providing the foundation of growth and development.
13A.2 Core Values
"Leaders must be proactive in involving people in the process of creating shared values." -James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
"Core values are the organization's essential and enduring tenets-a small set of timeless guiding principles that require no external justification; they have intrinsic value and importance to those inside the organization." These are the organizational values that will never change and that provide the foundation of the organization. In contrast, vision and direction may change as the environment changes and the leadership responds. In fact, change is imperative to the survival of an organization. But the more the world changes, the more critical role core values will play.
Examples of core purposes in the for-profit sector include:
Sony: To experience the joy of advancing and applying technology for the benefit of the public
3M: To solve unsolved problems innovatively
Hewlett-Packard: To make technical contributions for the advancement and welfare of humanity
So when Sony began production of their first product-a rice cooker-and it failed, this was not the end of the company. There were to be many other products that would fulfill their core values. And when 3M changed from making sandpaper to manufacturing the indispensable Post-it(r) note, they were still on track, bringing their core value to life. What does that have to do with the not-for-profit sector? As you move forward through this chapter and begin to realize that change is one of the most constant and reliable forces in the environment, keep in mind the tenet of holding fast to core values. Contrary to the sector name of "for profit," the core values of the most visionary companies do not include profit as the most important value or goal. If included at all, as in the case of Merck, where it is fifth on their list of five, it is stated "Profit, but profit from work that benefits humanity."
If your organization has not been through the process of articulating core values, recognize that it is an exercise that demands authenticity. Core values are not derived through intellectual process, nor are they a product of what "should" be. They are to be identified by open sharing and discussion. They are to be "lived with" and "tried on" to see if they truly fit. Core values reflect what is, not what an organization aspires to be.
13A.3 Attainment of the Next Level Begins with Assessment
(A) PERSONAL ASSESSMENT
"... position of leadership carries with it a responsibility to be aware of oneself, and to mold one's character to reflect that which will inspire others." -David S. Pottrock and Terry Pearce
Awareness of self demands taking a hard look at your own behavior, traits, and habits. You will want the feedback of others because how they see you and how you see yourself may differ. David Pottrock (president and co-CEO of The Charles Schwab Corporation) and Terry Pearce (founder of Leadership Communication) offer an eight-step process for self-evaluation:
1. Spend time exploring your personal values.
2. Review personal and business behavior and decisions over the past year and measure them against your values.
3. Consider the characteristics present in those you trust.
4. Ask your peers, your direct reports, and your boss to give you honest feedback on your own integrity and how consistently you act in alignment with your values.
5. With every visible decision that you make, ask yourself "How could people who would not like me to succeed twist this to make it look bad?"
6. With each decision that you make, notice if you are focusing on defending the action from the perception of others.
7. Take particular notice when someone interprets something you do as negative.
8. Take time to occasionally talk to those at different levels of the organization.
Leadership comes in many forms. Leaders have multiple traits and abilities, but one in particular is essential to all-the art of communication. In considering the communication traits of a leader, one characteristic stands out. A leader uses language that tells stories about an organization. In so doing, the leader is communicating the values as well as the meaning of the organization. The listener is engaged and drawn in to experience the organization.
As experienced development professionals, we are taught that listening is one of the most important traits we must develop. Pottrock and Pearce define the type of listening so critical to our profession as "listening to hear rather than to answer." Although a simple message, it packs a punch. They further suggest that we hone our ability to hear what is below the surface of comments. Recognition and acknowledgment of points of view that oppose your own reveal the interest of a caring listener.
These authors describe a style of leadership communication. They urge the reader to "focus on values every time you speak about the future of your enterprise." They also offer a pragmatic bit of advice when using a less formal avenue of communication; they espouse using e-mail and voice mail in a conscientious manner to pass information but to avoid leaving messages that give opinions or emotionally charged communication. We are most vulnerable to unconsciously undoing all the good that has been done with a comment that is more of a kneejerk kind of response than a well-thought-out statement.
In describing another kind of leadership, Charles Garfield has identified characteristics of effective "peak-performing" team builders:
Delegating to empower
Stretching the abilities of others
Encouraging educated risk-taking
Garfield goes on to say, "peak performers discover time and again that releasing the power in others, whether in co-workers or customers, benefits them in the long run." Garfield illustrates the characteristics of the peak performer when he describes the unique individual and team commitment exemplified by the workers at Grumman Aerospace when they undertook the exciting task of building the lunar module. Workers who had performed at minimum standards suddenly emerged as creative, energized employees. Those who had operated most of their adult lives as loners became functioning members of a team. When asked about this phenomenon late one evening, one worker responded by pointing to the moon and commenting that people have been talking about going to the moon for years but WE are going to make it happen.
There are other personal assessment tools available. Whatever tools you use, the importance of the process is the experience of looking within, of learning how you are perceived by others. With this information in hand you are now ready to move to the next step.
(B) ASSESSMENT OF THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT
"As individuals, or even as companies, we have little control over driving forces. Our leverage for dealing with them comes from recognizing them, and understanding their effect." -Peter Schwartz
If a program is to move to the next level, it is essential to understand the current level and the environment in which it functions. In Chapter 6 of The Nonprofit Handbook: Fund Raising, James Greenfield presents the "Environmental Audit on Fund Raising." Each of the components on pages 119-134 will influence the ability of an organization to move forward. Greenfield lays out components including the type of organization, its planning practices, leadership, geography, competition, existing donors, development staff, budget, and practices. Each of these components deserves review, assessment, and evaluation.
Greenfield's environmental audit focuses primarily on the organization and its development program. At some point in the process, it is important to look at those forces that are shaping the organization from the outside. In The Art of the Long View, author Peter Schwartz suggests that one should assess the driving forces that impact an organization. Schwartz proposes that these forces lie primarily in five areas:
A productive exercise for both staff and board is to review fundraising capacity as impacted by the driving forces in each of these areas. They interface nicely with Greenfield's components for assessment. A review of the impact of social forces on your organization might include a realistic assessment of available leadership. For example, in a geographically rural environment, such access may be extremely limited. The driving force in such a community may be impacted by a diminishing or culturally changing population. Either circumstance will have a direct impact on your fundraising program. Without awareness of these driving forces, an organization can potentially go out of business. At Arizona's Children Association, a statewide organization, the board membership represents different regions of the state. It is critical that these individuals represent the population in that community if the organization is to become recognized, accepted, and perceived as adding value to the community. Then and only then is it possible to engage the public in a fundraising process.
Technology offers an ever-changing environment. Hardware is said to have the shelf life of milk in today's market. That translates into both good and bad news for the organization that is beginning to build its resources. Implied is the fact that "older" equipment, though less than a year old, may become available at lower cost. However, the other side of the coin suggests that the decisions regarding acquisition of such equipment had better be based on some well-thought-out strategic plan if it is not to become obsolete.
The economic forces surrounding your organization may include corporate mergers and acquisitions, all of which impact the available discretionary dollars. A community may experience "boom or bust" circumstances, either of which will directly impact the not-for-profit community. Keeping eyes and ears attuned to the media will keep the well-directed not-for-profit on top of the opportunities that are either disappearing or just becoming more available. As corporate funding in Arizona began to slide, it became imperative that a focus on the identification and cultivation of individual prospects become the driving force in the fundraising process. Further, when the unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent in November of 2001, it was obvious that if Arizona's Children was going to have any fundraising appeal, this issue would have to be sensitively addressed.
In Yuma, Arizona, in 1999, the unemployment rate was a staggering 26 percent.
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