The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Ask a Fundraising Coach: my president micromanages me, I have to raise a lot of money with no support, and more

Ask a Fundraising Coach

Ask a Fundraising Coach is Network for Good’s weekly advice column, where Personal Fundraising Coach Andrea Holthouser tackles your toughest challenges in the world of fundraising, nonprofit management, donor relations, and more.

Submit your questions to [email protected].

Erynn A writes:

I just joined my organization (6 months ago) and I don’t like the way our president treats me. I feel like I can never do anything right. And there’s no point in doing trying anyway – he’s just going to redo my work and tell me how bad a job I’m doing.

Since he basically insists on redoing the work of the entire staff, we have a giant bottleneck. Nothing really gets done and then he yells at me for missing deadlines/being behind. I live somewhere with not many job opportunities in my field and I feel like I’m lucky to have this one – how do I cope and try to meet fundraising goals with all of this going on?

First, a fun fact for context – on average, a person will have ten jobs in their life. Upon initial review, the issue sounds like it’s with the president (not you). That said, I’ve been there and know it can be draining, demoralizing, and destructive to your most valuable gift (confidence) long-term. For now, I recommend the following:

Flip it in your head and focus on the positive – you are lucky to work with a leader who is invested in the final product. It is increasingly rare that managers have or take the time to review and provide consistent feedback on their employees’ work. It is clear he has a preferred tone and style. Instead of focusing on what a bad job he may think you are doing, look for patterns in his revisions and try to get ahead of them. If an opportunity arises, ask about his writing style – does he have a sample(s) he would be willing to share of an especially well-written communication? Is there a colleague on your team who is consistently recognized for their writing style? Try to emulate it in your next draft.

Demonstrate you are willing to learn and help the president save time.

Stop setting OR publishing deadlines. If deadlines are outside of your control, give the review process plenty of time (four to six weeks). If you need to, simply include placeholders and go back and fill in details later. In some cases, the president is aware of the bottleneck they create and will greatly appreciate receiving a document for review well in advance of the deadline. Get in the driver’s seat – report back on the success of each document you “collaborated” on.

Limit the amount of time you spend on drafts. If you know it will come back looking very different from your original vision, keep it simple and you will be much less disappointed when changes are added to your masterpiece. Determine how much time needs to be spent on writing. If this is a major pain point in your job, try to do less of it. There are lots of other and just as exciting ways to raise funds. Work with volunteers and focus on in-person meetings. If a budget exists, outsource writing altogether.

Finally, if you think the president’s recommendations are unfair, unfounded, and the constant criticism is more than you can take – turn your writing skills to your resume. It truly doesn’t have to be this tough.

R C writes:

How do we raise $50K to move to the next level when we are not in a financial position to pay for professional fundraiser and community support is minimal?

Start with your board. Request individual face to face meetings. If a member is unable to meet, schedule a 30-minute phone call. In your email request, present the challenge and let them know you are asking for their help.

These are your three goals for each meeting:

1) Secure vital support from the board member.

2) Get the board member to help you brainstorm a list of individual prospects and corporate contacts. Ideally, the board member will make the calls to these contacts. If not, it will be more time consuming for you, but helpful nonetheless.

3) After the meeting, the board member will understand and feel a sense of shared responsibility for the financial challenge your organization or employer is facing.

After your meetings are completed, provide a weekly email update to your board every Monday or Tuesday. Keep the format simple and consistent. Thank everyone who has personally contributed or helped with outreach and provide the latest fundraising totals to demonstrate progress toward your goal of $50,000.

On December 20th, you are on your own. Even the most dedicated board members are rarely willing to help instead of spending time with their families during the holidays. Launch a campaign targeted at lapsed donors. Hyper-personalize your emails. Show them why their support is critical.

Bottom line: the time for worrying, wishing, and waiting is OVER. I have every confidence you can make this work, but you must hustle and you CANNOT go at it alone.

Tresa V writes:

My organization has been selected to receive free 30-second TV commercials through the regional cable network for the next year. (VALUE: $150,000+). They need the commercial by Thanksgiving and will have it up in early December. What I think we should do with this commercial is drive people to our web page where they can connect to our Network for Good fundraising page. If you have a better idea, please let me know.

I encourage you to embrace this exciting opportunity with an open and optimistic mind!

Regarding content, keep it simple – present the problem your organization is working to solve and what contributions can do to help. Check out Network for Good’s storytelling eGuide to learn more about telling compelling stories.

Do your homework. Determine if this timeline is even feasible and what the approximate cost could be to hire a professional. If you determine it is, please see below.

DO NOT ATTEMPT ALONE – ASK FOR HELP.

Send a short and upbeat email outlining the opportunity and your vision for the ads to your Board and most loyal donors. Ask if they know any vendors you can contact to make it happen. Ask your contact at the station that is gifting the time if they know of any local colleges or high schools that may have a media program and have helped with similar projects for nonprofits. Many nonprofits have had great luck asking for help with similar projects on social media. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, present it as a contest to avoid having to go with the first volunteer that responds.

And look, even if you miss the deadline, you now have amazing 30-second videos to put on your website, social media, and emails.

Above all else, remember: the goal is to drive potential donors to your giving page. To do this, you can set up a redirect (yourorgname.org/donate is my personal favorite).

 

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About This Blog

Amanda Khoury
Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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