CEOs and Development
Case Currents published this great article 10 years ago for senior staff and administrators. In a nutshell, here it is:
There are 12 qualities that make a nonprofit Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Executive Director a GREAT partner in the Fundraising/Development Department.
- Vision and Leadership.
- A nonprofit CEO should have:
- A well-articulated vision of where the institution can go
- Goals to achieve the vision
- A credible strategic plan for meeting the goals
- Good leadership and good management of resources will inspire prospects to invest.
- Commitment to the Institution. A CEO should truly believe in the institution’s mission.
- Commitment to Development. The CEO should make fundraising a personal and institutional priority. Development should organize, develop a strategy and keep the fundraising program on track.
- Integrity and Honesty. Moral fiber is essential in a CEO. The consistency (or inconsistency) of responses to issues, questions, and problems will show up over time.
- Perseverance and Patience. Virtually every major “Ask” follows many years of cultivation. The CEO should be prepared to spend long periods of time in pursuit of a gift.
- Optimism. The ideal CEO believes success is possible and keeps perspective–and hope–when minor setbacks occur. Fundraising requires a positive outlook and a long view.
- Communication Skills. All CEO’s should learn how to speak effectively to large groups, small groups, a TV camera, and individual constituents. Being a good listener is also critical.
- Energy and Pacing. CEOs should work with their staff to pace themselves and handle their schedules wisely because of all the extra events, meetings, and calls after normal working hours.
- Openness to Advice. A CEO and Chief Development Officer CDO should be a team with complementary strengths. They should be able to share advice and ideas often and easily.
- A Sense of Humor. A CEO can relieve everyone’s tensions by seeing the humor in situations that go awry.
- Creativity. When the original plan for a solicitation falls flat, a creative CEO can keep the door open for another proposal.
- Understands “who should” and “how to” ask for money. Sometimes a CEO will make “the ask,” and other times a volunteer will be the primary solicitor, while the CEO supports the ask. Good CEO’s understand this duality.
A CEO should also:
- Make the CDO a part of the policy team.
- Trust the CDO and delegate authority.
- Provide adequate resources.
- Handle differences in private.
- Support and encourage the staff.
- Offer candid and constructive criticism.
- Make decisions in a timely fashion.