If your boss does not understand fundraising, give them a 2 minute explanation of how fundraising works. Show them that they’ll get the best bang for their buck from major gifts, and individuals, and the least from foundations, corporations, and events. There are graphs from Giving USA and Philanthropy Reports that go into detail about where most of the money comes from for nonprofits. There’s also a fun short video above which mentions that 75% of nonprofit money comes from individuals.

Giving USA Contribution Source: Where Donations Come From

Who Gives?

When you educate them about fundraising, you want to show them that you are managing expectations about which of your activities will bring in the most money, and which will bring in the least. So if they ask you where your million dollar grant is, tell them that we’d be better off looking for a person to give us a million dollars, rather than a foundation.

Managing up is tricky, because you never want to give the impression that that’s what you’re doing. You’ve got to think about what management strategies work best for you, and which ones your boss is trying to employ.

Management strategies for your boss can include asking strategic questions, such as:

  • What would make you feel like we were moving forward in our program right now?
  • How often do you like to communicate?
  • Do you prefer telephone, email, or face to face?
  • How can I make your job easier?
  • What are some of the pressures or issues you’ve got right now?
  • Is there something I could be doing better?

Top tip: Always be the first to say you’re sorry, even if you don’t think you should be the one saying it. Sometimes it’s easier to get things done if the tension is alleviated that way. It doesn’t mean that you are accepting blame for something, it just means you have the emotional intelligence to move forward and try to get your team motivated to do their best for your nonprofit.

I’ve recently organized my blog’s archive page to be easier for people to find things, and I have a whole section about nonprofit management and your career in there. Here’s my new archive page!

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve used to manage up, please leave them below, I’d love to learn from you!