by Kris W. Kindelsperger
One of the characteristics of strong and effective fundraising organizations is that the president/CEO/executive director (whatever the appropriate title) is heavily engaged in relationship building with top donors and is effectively used as the “face” of the organization when it comes to all phases of development work. Done well, the CEO is the best member of the development team, understands the important role he or she needs to play, and devotes a significant portion of their time (20% to 50%) to development activities.
Two phenomena tend to hold back effective work by the CEO. On one hand, some CEOs don’t necessarily enjoy development work, don’t think it is an important use of their time, or are consumed with other organizational issues to the point that there is no time left over for development work. In other cases, the development staff does not do enough to position the CEO as the development leader.
It is difficult to overcome the challenges of dealing with a reluctant CEO, but it is inexcusable if the development team is not doing everything they can to position the CEO for development success. Placing the CEO at the right events, involving the CEO in appropriate community boards and activities, assisting the CEO in managing a portfolio of key donors, creating situations for the president to interact with emerging prospects, and watching the CEOs “blind side” (as the football themed movie in theatres now so aptly points out) are all routine functions of a strategic development program that supports its CEO.
Is your organization positioning your CEO for development success? Let us know what you're doing right in the JGA comments section below.