Raising Up Fund Raisers

Randall Davey

 Chief development officers (CDO) recruit, train, and deploy fundraisers to 1) cultivate relationships with individual donors, foundations, and corporations, and 2) solicit them for mid-level to major gifts. But, on average, the deployments last between 18 and 24 months, and 51 percent of current fundraisers say they are planning on a change in the next two years.i To improve retention of high-quality fundraisers, effective CDOs understand the importance of managing the messengers, the message, and marketing to influence a more rewarding work experience. 

The CDO’s first responsibility is developing a team of institutional messengers committed to the practice of cultivating relationships and raising money. Team members must be coachable, accountable, and adaptable. It follows that the CDO controls the team’s budget with special attention to salary, benefits, and expenses. The CDO encourages performers and invests in underperformers by holding crucial conversations, instituting personal development plans and, when necessary, eliminating a non-compliant team member. 

Second, the CDO crafts and trains the team around a uniform message or narrative. The burden should not fall to individual reps to craft their individual stories. Their role is to advance the organization’s story in a way that makes it apparent all donor reps are essentially saying the same thing in the same way. 

Third, the CDO manages marketing to ensure that the message, including when and how it is communicated, reflects the CDO’s priorities, timelines, and focus. The quality of every piece of marketing should reflect the organization’s culture, the seriousness of the message, and the legitimacy of institutional goals. 

When CDOs have free reign to create and raise up a dream team, members are more apt to last longer, report higher job satisfaction and, more importantly, raise friends of the organization while generating meaningful contributions—the charity’s life blood. 

Randall E. Davey, CAP® is a financial advisor with Guide Advisors, Inc. In certain circumstances, he may offer insurance as a sole proprietor or through Guide Advisors, Inc. He resides with his wife, Bonnie in Mesa, Arizona. Randall can be reached at randall.davey@guideadvisors.com or by phone at 425.478.5668. Insurance and advisory services are offered through Guide Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor in the State of Washington and other jurisdictions in which it may conduct business. The information contained herein should in no way be construed or interpreted as a solicitation to sell or offer to sell advisory services to any residents of any State other than the states listed above or where otherwise legally permitted. All written content is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions. The information contained in this material has been derived from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed as to accuracy and completeness and does not purport to be a complete analysis of the materials discussed. 

i Journal of Philanthropy. Dec 13, 2019.  

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