In a recent Stanford Social Innovation review blog post, Paul Connolly talked about the new findings of the TCC group around the Packard Foundation’s grantees. He writes,

“Since 1997, the Packard Foundation has awarded 1,392 “organizational effectiveness” grants to an array of groups, most of which have annual operating budgets of $1 to $10 million, and operate in the human services, environmental conservation, population, and arts fields. Packard recently surveyed 274 of these grantees from 2007-2009 (grant amounts ranged between $7,000 and $160,000) and analyzed the responses from 169 (a 62% response rate) to ascertain the outcomes. Grantees that concentrated on improving fund development capacity reported inferior longer-term outcomes compared to those that focused on strategic planning, organizational learning, or leadership succession.”

I’m glad he addressed the fact that funding fundraising does not help as much as funding leadership succession and organizational issues. If you want to take a look at the wiki this research is being compiled on, it’s here.

If you invest in your fundraising professional, and then they leave, and then you get another one, and then they leave, you may want to ask yourself, why, in a down economy, are my fundraisers leaving or being fired?

Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) - 1922 Two Women Running on the Beach

Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) – 1922 Two Women Running on the Beach

What makes fundraisers run away from nonprofits is bad leadership.

There. I said it.

I would like every single foundation reading this to understand this. If your board is checked out or your senior leadership says, point blank, “I am not interested in fundraising” then no amount of funding fundraising is going to keep a good fundraiser there. There’s really not a lot you can do when your leaders refuse to fundraise, and put all of the pressure onto you.

I wish that this study had actually interviewed people who were no longer fundraising at the organizations where they had “invested in fundraising” and asked them what they thought. I think they would have had quite a different response about why funding fundraising wasn’t a success. It wasn’t that they didn’t need continuing education, or more people helping them. It was that they were not given enough power within the organization to make a dent in the organizational structure, management, and communications.

If you crack open Dan Pallotta’s book, Uncharitable, he recommends that ALL people in the nonprofit think of themselves as fundraisers, or brand ambassadors for the organization, and comport themselves as such. This can take the pressure off the fundraising professional and increase revenues exponentially.

I would like to see a study where funders look at creating structures inside an organization, that is standardized systems for each section of the nonprofit, to help people get their work done more quickly, and then help them plug into areas of fundraising that they are comfortable with.

I would like to show every nonprofit staff person that fundraising is everyone’s responsibility.

It is incredible to me how in so many nonprofits people don’t seem to want to accept that if fundraising doesn’t happen, their mission will not go forward, and then they won’t have a job. It should be foremost on everyone’s minds, and everyone should be pulling together to get more donor relationships for the nonprofit.

I think the answer should be, not fund fundraising OR organizational strategy and leadership succession, but we should fund fundraising AND strategy and succession planning.

What do YOU think?

Do you think that a study where only 62% of participants responded could have valid results? Do you think that funding fundraising is less important than succession planning? Do you think that everyone should be a fundraiser?

PS. Want to come to my webinar on July 15th about monitoring your online reputation? It is gonna be awesome. Go here.