A board of directors that "works" is the main key to development – for fundraising, and for organisations in general.
We've said it before, and we say it again here.
Working on development with Boards of Directors is a fascinating exercise, which shines a light on the dichotomy that often exists between theory and practice, between committed directors and boards that don't work (or don't work the way they should).
Rolling out fundraising strategies when the governing body isn't on board (which is what the blog's title alludes to) is like driving on a motorway with the handbrake on: if you're lucky, you'll move along slowly, struggling, with the engine at top revs, to try and build up speed; if you're not, you'll go into a spin.
Clearly, we would prefer the first hypothesis, but neither one is desirable when you're planning projects, positive change, effects on the community.
The fact that the board is virtually absent, has little or no interest, isn't engaged or engaging, is often considered par for the course, without adequate thought being given to the strategic implications this has for the life of the organisation and the cause it supports.
To put it bluntly:
you can't make a problem magically disappear by pretending it doesn't exist.
At a certain point in even the best fundraising plan, the board will re-appear from somewhere in all its (vain)glory and force everyone to jump through corrective hoops, or revise their objectives and re-define their potential Often, to undertake lengthy Zen meditations.
Simplifying complexity is one of the "guiding" concepts in my approach to this job Dismantling problems in order to make them easier to handle is a useful way to move ahead without being discouraged by apparently unachievable objectives.
Involving governance in development strategies is fundamental. It's challenging.
Professionalism is essential – fundraising is a cross-sector profession (cit. Valerio Melandri) and fundraisers must be able to read situations in order to interpret them. And once they've read and interpreted a situation, they have to find solutions and tools to drive change – in this case internal change even before external change (on the impacts of the cause).
I'll be talking about this and many other questions at a special session at the next Fundraising Festival – from 15 to 17 May, in Riva del Garda … click here for the program, and, if you haven't already done so, think about registering: it's worth it, every time!
In 90 minutes, I'll be talking about the way I work with boards to help them define and correctly "play" their role in supporting the organisation’s development and fundraising. I'll also be suggesting useful tips and tools on working with governance, based on my own practical experience in Italy and abroad.
Because a fundraiser should take an interest in the board of directors, engage it and be engaged by it, share expectations and commitments.
Together, we'll discuss ways of working, on Thursday 16 May at 10.30 a.m.
I look forward to seeing you at the Festival!