What Keeps 1200 Fundraisers Up at Night?

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My recent Opinion Survey of Nonprofit Leaders came back with some rather shocking – or concerning – results.what keeps fundraisers up

People who work in our nonprofit sector clearly have too much on their plates.

I know – you are probably saying – “I’ve known that for a long time. What else is new?”

When I asked “What keeps fundraisers up at night?” – I thought I’d get the usual worries about donor attrition, impossible fundraising goals, out-of-control events, or boards that were not engaged or involved.

But your answers were surprising!

What keeps you up at night? 67% are management-related issues:

  • Too much to do and too little time 27%
  • Lack of organized fundraising plan 13%
  • Not enough staff to do the work 12%
  • Uncertain support of fundraising from leadership 8%
  • Lack of agreement on a fundraising strategy 7%

Whaaaat? I thought to myself. So here are my takeaways:

It is so very unfortunate that many of our dedicated hardworking colleagues are working in such awful environments.

How can anyone be happy or productive when you are in a situation where:

  • there’s not a plan,
  • people are confused about priorities,
  • everyone is trying to accomplish more than humanely possible,
  • there’s little support from above and below,
  • your goals are unrealistic or are changed on you in mid-stream?

These respondents said it all:

“As a one-person shop, it’s a juggling act each day.”

“I have so much to do and not sure where my focus should be.”

“Limited support and resources = unrealistic fundraising goals.”

Many leaders who make decisions about fundraising don’t know what it takes to really be successful.

Either they don’t understand the implications of their decisions, OR they are not taking the time to figure it out.

“Working for/with people who don’t know about fundraising and yet you, as a fundraiser, have to answer to them.”

People are spreading themselves so thin that they can’t possibly get the results they want:

“I think most like me spend a lot of time trying to do everything and never doing anything well enough to get the optimum results.

“We are in a capital campaign. I now have to balance my regular duties (annual fund, phone-a-thon, senior gift, employee giving) with a set number of visits and a monetary goal. I worry about how to get it all done without sacrificing quality!

I wonder if nonprofits just don’t care about their employees?

I am sure I’m not the Lone Ranger, but a one man song-and-dance for the Advancement Department takes its toll.

Nonprofits are heaping vast workloads on their staffs.

“I work in a smaller nonprofit. That means that I do the work of 3 people and I have a difficulty with time management and prioritization.

“I’m a One Person Development Shop — with additional responsibilities like talking to the media, representing the organization to the world, recruiting, training, and supervising volunteers, and developing the board, creating alliances with similar organizations, and national advocacy.

Some leaders can’t agree on the actual fundraising plan, or how it should be carried out.

“Leadership changes things on us. They raise our goals to meet expenses – even after they say they will not do it.

Here’s a classic case of what happens when inexperienced, well-meaning people who don’t understand fundraising are running the show:

“I’m working with a relatively young NP with almost no staff. Board and new ED have little knowledge of fundraising. Going off in all directions.”

“Planning is not viewed as important tool by leadership. Tendency to jump at the next big thing without regard for “the plan.”

Because pay is low, then turnover is high.

So the institutional memory walks out the door when staff leave. Not to mention the down time when position is empty.

“We do not pay adequate wages, so I’m constantly hiring and training staff.

You MUST read Mary Calahane’s post just this week that has generated so much conversation:

Your Work or a Life: A Painful Choice No One Should Have to Make

And also Roger Craver’s Agitator post from yesterday: “Stop Driving Women Out of Fundraising.”

Where do you want me to focus this year?

People are asking for training in the important fundraising skill set areas.

In my INSIDERS professional development program – I”ll be tackling major gifts from every possible angle. (that’s my sweet spot, you know!)

I’ll also bring you deep PRACTICAL training from the best in the business on how to create superb donor loyalty.

Because of this feedback, I’ll be adding a new focus on “managing up,” time management and organizational development.  Would you like a “Help Desk” where you could get expert help with organizational issues?

I’m incorporating all of this for my cool, smart INSIDERS this year. Come on and join us right now while we are having our membership promotion and prices are the lowest of the year.  Our membership sale closes on October 30:

  • Secrets of developing major gift relationships

  • Identifying new major gift prospects

  • Nurturing and closing mega-gifts

  • Small shop major gift success secrets – newest research

  • Newest fundraising trends for 2016

  • Getting your board engaged, supportive and involved

  • Raising money from millennials – newest research

  • Communications tools that create long term loyal donors

  • Modern new ways to ask for and close planned gifts

  • Creating highly profitable fundraising events

  • Donor-centered fundraising to build a loyal donor base

  • Nurturing yourself and your career

  • Latest annual fund year-end strategies for 2016

  • Get organized with a highly profitable fundraising plan

  • Email appeals – newest trends in internet fundraising

What do YOU need help with this year?

What is keeping YOU up at night?

Leave a comment and LET US KNOW!