Category: Leadership

The Importance of Good Followership

                                                             It’s a pity that being a follower gets such a bad rap because everyone involved with fundraising out to have the opportunity–even the responsibility–to act as both decisive leader and conscientious follower. The writings of the eminent Harvard leadership professor Barbara Kellerman have helped me to develop my own intuitions concerning the dynamic and mutual influence between leaders and followers. She defines followers in two ways: First, they are subordinates

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What Do Fundraisers Do? (And why it matters)

Having worked as a professional fundraiser for more than two decades, I am convinced that a better understanding of our work is needed. People generally know what an accountant or bookkeeper does. By virtue of television, people think they know what a lawyer or forensic scientist does. But when it comes to fundraising, there are two common misperceptions. One: those high-end fundraisers who work for the most distinguished hospitals, universities, and museums and earn high salaries are thought of as miracle workers who weave magic spells over wealthy philanthropists and mysteriously produce large sums of money for the institutions that

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Spotlight on Jill Mendelson: A Nonprofit Woman With Whom to Reckon

To interview Jill Mendelson of UJA-Federation of New York is to understand why she’s enjoyed a 33-year run of leadership there: she has a vision, and she means to actualize it. She is the kind of person who will hate having a spotlight on her. But living as we do in a time desperate for sincere public service and honest character, we, as fundraisers, can benefit from her views of our “high-profit” sector, its challenges and opportunities, what’s she’s learned over these many years, the accomplishments she’s most proud of, and what continues to inspire her. Jill heads UJA’s esteemed

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Sharing Your Vision

Right up front, a superb case communicates to the donor why funds are urgently needed and why philanthropic support makes sense. That must occur on the first page simply because many people will only read that page and possibly the last page. A case statement obviously shares your mission, but that is secondary to sharing the vision of the campaign. Placing the mission in a sidebar often serves well. We often write a short (5 pages) and a long version (ten pages) of the case, but recently I haven’t seen much need for the longer version. Also, having a short

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Other People’s Money

Often trustees will pressure us fundraisers to state which philanthropists we know and if we can get them to give to their cause. After twenty years as a fundraiser, no matter the cause or the organization, trustees still ask me, usually very early in the conversation, to list who might fund them. Ideally, I have previously done my own prospect research on the board members so that I know their giving history and can work this into the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to talking about the profile or attributes of the donor who I think will

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