The nonprofit sector is an essential part of the character of central Illinois, and the Peoria area is well known for being one of the most charitable communities in the nation. Year after year, the business community steps up to play an indispensable role in making our region a better place to live, work and play by supporting local not-for-profit organizations.
According to taxexemptworld.com, there are more than 2,100 tax-exempt not-for-profit organizations in the Tri-County Area. With so many worthy groups, it was not easy to select participants for this roundtable.
With iBi’s annual 40 Leaders Under Forty awards coming up on November 6th, we took a look at some previous winners who were—and are—some of the region’s strongest leaders in the not-for-profit arena. The following individuals are leaders of their respective organizations—the same ones they were with when they received the award.
Larry Timm, Junior Achievement (JA)
Steve Thompson, Easter Seals (ES)
Shelly Heiden, American Red Cross Blood Services (RCBS)
Michael Stephan, Heart of Illinois United Way (HOIUW)
Katie Jones, Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley (MHAIV)
Pam Schubach, YWCA Peoria (YWCA)
Q) Explain how the local chapter and the national organization work together.
JA: JA of Central Illinois is one of 140 U.S. offices under its parent company, JA Worldwide. Junior Achievement reaches nine million students in 120 countries. JA Worldwide offers a variety of services quite similar to a franchisor/franchisee relationship.
ES: Easter Seals’ services are provided throughout the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Australia. Our national organization, Easter Seals, Inc., is headquartered in Chicago and licenses affiliates like ours to conduct programs, raise funds and do business in the name of Easter Seals. Currently, there are 78 affiliates and one international affiliation. Last year, Easter Seals served more than one million children and adults with disabilities or special needs and their families in more than 550 sites. It is important to note that, while Easter Seals Peoria-Bloomington is a member of the national Easter Seals organization, we are an independent not-for-profit organization.
RCBS: Red Cross Blood Services is comprised of 36 blood regions grouped into seven divisions. The CEO of each region reports to a division vice president. The regions work together through a national inventory management system to ensure that lifesaving blood and blood products are available to patients wherever and whenever needed.
HOIUW: Unlike many other charities and nonprofits, United Ways are not chapters of a larger, national organization. Each United Way is independent and autonomous. The United Way of America, which serves as our national trade association, exists to provide national recognition through branding and advertising, along with support for public policy initiatives and assistance training volunteers and staff.
MHAIV: The national organization, Mental Health America, previously known as the National Mental Health Association, provides a leadership role for other MHA affiliates throughout the U.S., keeping us abreast of the latest in issues, policies and programs related to mental health. We receive no funding from the national organization, but we can choose to attend the annual MHA conference and other MHA-sponsored trainings for a fee.
YWCA: The YWCA Peoria is a member of the YWCA of the United States of America, Inc. and the Great Lakes Alliance Regional Council of the YWCA of the USA, Inc. However, each local association is an autonomous organization with its own set of bylaws. We pay dues to our regional council, which in turn, provides training and leadership, as well as advocacy for our association and region. Our national office is focused on creating a national presence and continued advocacy efforts throughout the U.S. and the world.
Q) To the extent possible, please break down your annual budget by source of funds in percentage terms.
JA: Junior Achievement reached 13,014 students during the last school year on $300,815—that is our complete and entire budget. So, for $23.11, each student experienced JA from a business professional an average of six times—that’s just $3.85 per session.
By experience, I mean interactive, hands-on sessions taught by someone just like you, rather than a lecture from a school teacher. JA provides all the materials at no cost to the school, including CDs, stickers, maps, game pieces, foreign currency and more.
ES: Nearly 60 percent of Easter Seals’ revenue is derived from program service fees, including those from private insurance companies, Medicaid and other reimbursements from the State of Illinois. Approximately 30 percent comes from generous gifts from individuals, businesses and organizations, underscoring the critically important role of local fundraising efforts in advancing the Easter Seals mission. The balance comes from investment income (5%), grants (4.5%) and miscellaneous income (1.5%).
It is also important to note how the dollars are spent. Last year, 88 percent of Easter Seals dollars went directly to programs and services, with just seven percent being spent on fundraising, 4.5 percent for management and general expense, and 0.5 percent for national Easter Seals membership fees.
RCBS: The American Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood supply by working with more than four million donors and 3,000 hospitals. We rely on the generous gifts provided by volunteer blood donors. In order for the Red Cross to make that gift available to patients in need, we must collect, store, test and process the blood. There are significant costs associated with each of these processes, and in order for us to continue making these donations available, we must charge for the testing and processing of the blood to recoup these costs.
HOIUW: In 2007, the Heart of Illinois United Way raised more than $9.3 million for the health and social service industry of central Illinois. Our United Way has one of the lowest fundraising and administration costs in the nation, with 90.3 cents of every dollar we raise assisting the people of central Illinois. A panel of more than 80 volunteers, from diverse segments of the community, review grant applications from our 45 partner agencies and allocate these dollars to make the greatest impact. Because we are not a chapter of a larger organization, all of the money we raise is from central Illinois, and it stays in central Illinois.
MHAIV: We receive a large amount of our funding through fundraisers, including corporate sponsorship, special-event registrations and individual contributions, approximately 35 percent of our overall budget.
We are fortunate to belong to the United Way family of member chapters of the United Way, with the lion’s share coming from the Heart of Illinois United Way. We receive some support from a myriad of grants and contracts; from private foundations, such as the Tim Ardis Foundation for Hope; and from public entities, such as the State of Illinois Division of Mental Health; together making up approximately 30 percent of our budget. Our board of directors created an endowment with the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, and we earn income on that investment every year. This revenue and other sources make up the remaining amount—less than 10 percent.
The greatest gifts we receive, while hard to explain in financial terms, come from the outstanding collaborative partnerships we enjoy with other nonprofits. For example, for many years, we have received tremendous support from the Human Service Center Emergency Response Services, which provides daily back-up and support for our crisis hotlines. Likewise, we could not effectively promote our mental health education programs if local organizations like the Salvation Army, the Peoria Rescue Mission and the Center for Prevention of Abuse did not request and welcome these services for their families and staff. This is perhaps one of the greatest contributions of all—to “blend our agendas” and find common solutions through partnerships and cost-sharing solutions.
YWCA: Our budget breaks down as follows: grants (38%), program service fees (23%), United Way funding (10%), contributions (7%), rental income (5%), special events (3%) and miscellaneous (11%).
Q) In your experience, what has changed the most in the not-for-profit sector in the last decade?
JA: Funders want to make philanthropic decisions that are defendable. The best way to demonstrate that is by tying those contributions back to their own bottom line and corporate culture. Stated another way, funders want to know “what’s in it for them,” and the them is usually their employees.
This is not a selfish question. It is completely fair, and today’s corporate culture demands that it be asked. Good people are hard to come by, and the more perks or amenities that a business can offer its employees, the better their retention.
ES: Increased regulations and growing administrative complexities would certainly be in this category, particularly as regards the not-for-profit healthcare sector. Such rapid changes seem likely to continue. Changing rates of reimbursement and dynamic changes in need for services and supports, particularly for children with autism and their families, contribute to the challenges.
RCBS: In the blood banking industry, donor eligibility criteria has become stricter, resulting in a smaller eligible-donor pool—down to approximately 38 percent from 60 percent. The national blood supply is safer today than ever before, as blood screening tests have continued to evolve into more sensitive and accurate disease-detecting tools.
HOIUW: Nonprofit organizations are feeling the pinch of competition, just like businesses in the for-profit industry. In the last decade, the competition for the charitable dollar has grown tremendously. Donors are increasingly viewing their contributions as investments, and they are seeking out nonprofits that are making a positive, measurable impact in the communities they call home.
MHAIV: One of the welcome challenges has been the call for excellence in organizational systems and processes. For example, our hotline accrediting body, the American Association of Suicidology, has increased the required hours of supervision for staff and volunteers, while requiring that accredited hotlines install software for a call monitoring and recording system. We have also been led to adopt the latest in best practices for how to effectively aid an individual experiencing a crisis, using the evidence-based ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) model. More and more, nonprofit organizations are asked to cite research that proves anticipated program outcomes prior to their implementation, before funding can be received. Coming from a prevention standpoint, we have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to prove the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Anything that helps us make this argument helps to increase the public’s trust in the work we do.
YWCA: The biggest change is the competition for grant dollars from a variety of new not-for-profits. The YWCA is a very old organization— 150 years nationally, 115 locally. This presents many challenges from several funders who want to fund something “new” each year. Our struggle comes from both private donors and grant sources who don’t fully understand that if groups like us go out of business, there would be huge gaps in our community for services for those who often don’t have a voice at the table, like the homeless. We need ongoing support from a variety of sources.
Q) How is running a not-for-profit similar to running a for-profit company?
JA: You mean they aren’t identical?
ES: A not-for-profit organization is really nothing more than a mission- based business. Nearly every business technique employed by the for-profit sector must also be successfully employed by a not-for-profit organization. Rather than seeking solely to optimize monetary return on investment, the not-for-profit organization must balance both a financial and mission return. It is often the case at Easter Seals that many of the services we provide are mission-rich and money-poor. A good example is the provision of services to infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities—something that Easter Seals has excelled at for more than 85 years. Yet, despite how critically important early intervention is in the lives of young children, the rate of reimbursement for these services is actually significantly less than the fully burdened cost of providing them. Easter Seals is fortunate to have a committed board of directors who understand well the need for sound business practices while concurrently maintaining a passionate sense of mission.
And, thanks to the generous gifts of so many in the central Illinois community, Easter Seals has been able to do the “right thing” for those we have been called to serve, not just the “funded thing.”
Perhaps more a contrast than a similarity is the unique and powerful partnership that exists between professional staff and volunteers in the not-for-profit sector. It is this synergy that makes not-for-profit organizations a powerful force for good in our world.
HOIUW: I have said this before and still feel that it is true: nonprofit doesn’t mean no-profit. Nonprofit leadership—including staff, volunteers and board members—must have the business acumen to operate in a very competitive market. This includes looking for opportunities to be more efficient, such as collaboration and consolidation, while having a strategic vision. Every organization must take time in its busy day-to-day operations to evaluate their success and the environment in which they operate. It’s what will keep us on course, and it ensures we are adaptable and have our sights set for future growth.
MHAIV: We provide services which can be broken down into a cost-per-unit analysis. We can evaluate the number of people served and break it down to a cost-per-call (for example, we estimate there to be 3,600 hotline calls this year, costing approximately $29.48 per call). Like for-profit companies, nonprofit companies also face competition and all that goes with that—the good, the bad and the rest. We feel we should do good for our community, state the outcomes for the good we provide, and then be prepared to scrutinize our practices and identify what needs to be changed or enhanced, just like a business. Although this has always been true for nonprofit organizations, with our current economy and call for accountability, there is no room for waste or a lackadaisical approach to business in today’s nonprofit sector. We have to stay on our toes.
YWCA: We both have bottom lines to meet. Some aspects of our program delivery definitely contain all the elements of running a business, whereby we look at fee structure, cash flow, client services at capacity and pro formas. However, there are elements which are very reliant upon the donor dollar in order to make ends meet. When the donor struggles in a particular area, so do we. One very positive aspect for the not-for-profit business is that we can rely upon volunteers with expertise to share their knowledge, either through a board of directors or a committee. We are truly blessed with our local volunteer spirit and the willingness to share.
Q) How do you ensure the effective use and stewardship of incoming dollars? How do you measure accountability?
JA: Central Illinois has embraced JA and its mission like never before. Junior Achievement grew 34 percent in the classroom last year, and 255 percent since 2004. That is a powerful statement as to the value and effectiveness of what we offer, not just to your kids, but also to your entire community.
Junior Achievement is one of just two nonprofits I know of that are independently evaluated by a third party to see “if the needle moves” when youth experience JA. Our local office benchmarks against other JA offices to make sure we are more efficient than even the lean national average.
ES: Easter Seals ensures the effective use and stewardship of resources through diligent board oversight, appropriate internal controls, and both its fiscal and audit committees. We define quality and measures and report results to the public. Our outcome measurement system includes access, effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. These measures are reviewed monthly by the program services committee of the board of directors and quarterly by the full board. Easter Seals also benchmarks against other affiliates around the country, as well as with other local organizations.
RCBS: The Blood Services Division of the American Red Cross relies on donated blood. Every two seconds someone needs blood, and the American Red Cross takes its stewardship responsibility very seriously and helps ensure that all blood products are utilized in the most efficient, effective way possible.
HOIUW: The Heart of Illinois United Way has evolved greatly over the years we’ve been in business. Over the last eight years, we have made many strategic changes in our fund distribution process—from just funding a program because it met a need in the community to requiring that programs demonstrate how they are making positive, measurable differences for the people of central Illinois. It is this very competitive grant process that ensures specific health and human care programs are meeting the needs of our community and can show they are creating tangible results and meeting established benchmarks.
Assuring accountability for the precious contributions we receive is one of the most important tasks we face as a nonprofit organization. This year, we are working on a formal report to the community that will summarize all of the grants received and fundraiser proceeds that have, together, built Children’s Mental Health Matters, our comprehensive array of wellness promotion and suicide prevention programs for youth. We feel that we owe this to the community for their outstanding support of these programs. Annual reports and other reports to the community help us promote a clear understanding of the successful outcomes our programs achieve.
Another way we have demonstrated effective and careful use of our resources is with the use of technology to organize our major fundraisers With the addition of online fundraising for Whitney’s Walk For Life and the improvement of the whitneyswalk.com website, we have created a means for the accounting and team building to be managed online. Our donors can see the evidence of their contributions online at the click of a mouse. Although these investments were considerable and involved some risk (“You have to spend money to raise money”), we have witnessed the return through boosted proceeds and increased community support. Online registration and website overhaul = not cheap. Increased donor confidence = priceless.
YWCA: Almost all of our funders conduct annual audits on our programs and agency. Because we receive federal dollars, we must also conduct a single audit for all federal monies, in addition to our annual audit. Our stewardship of these dollars is very important to us and to our mission. We also measure accountability through our applications to various funders and the annual report to that funder, not only in dollars spent, but in outcomes achieved with our customers/clients. We measure on a monthly basis those successes and/or challenges and report back to those agencies. Locally, the United Way has increased the documentation of outcome measurement in order to qualify and quantify the stewardship of the donor dollar in our community. We are exceptionally pleased to be a part of that process.
Q) How has the sluggish national economy impacted giving in central Illinois?
JA: The net effect has been neutral to even positive so far. Organizations that continue to demonstrate validity, creativity, value and effectiveness can do more than survive—they can thrive—in this economy.
ES: Easter Seals takes a diverse and comprehensive approach to fundraising. Among the mix of fundraising efforts are the annual Easter Seals Telethon VIP Campaign, a wide variety of special events and direct mail. Thus far, it does not seem like the sluggish national economy has affected the local economy to the extent that giving has been significantly impacted. One exception is direct mail, which we project could be down as much as 25 percent this year. Direct mail performance is often negatively impacted when consumer confidence is low, donors face higher prices for food and energy, and when there is general uncertainty about the economy. Older donors, who comprise the majority of direct mail givers, show a history of being more sensitive to downturns in the economy.
RCBS: Fortunately, giving blood doesn’t cost money, just a small amount of time. Blood donors in our community are very committed to supporting the American Red Cross and continue to give of themselves for others, knowing that their volunteer efforts help save lives.
HOIUW: The people and businesses of central Illinois have always been on the positive side of the bell curve when it comes to charitable giving. From working in other communities, I think the nonprofits in our area are very fortunate to have donors who are so generous and compassionate. We are seeing multiple state and federal funding cuts affecting our partner agencies. But despite the extraordinary increases in fuel costs and food, the generosity of our donors has not waned. We are constantly hearing first-hand stories of how many individuals are increasing their contributions when they see the hardship their family, friends and neighbors are experiencing.
MHAIV: The economic downturn has resulted in slightly decreased corporate sponsorship, and yet we have sought to diversify funding streams, thereby enhancing the agency’s ability to “roll with the punches.” We can make no excuses for not accomplishing our mission, although, just like all businesses, we have to do the best we can with the resources we have been given. We try to work with outside organizations, be they school districts, counties, police departments, first responders, local businesses or other nonprofit organizations. If you want to work with us, we will find a way to fund it—through private grants, local fundraisers or government support. We will try to find a solution and help meet the need.
YWCA: At times it looks as though giving is up significantly in central Illinois; however, the need from low-income families is the greatest we have experienced in the last eight years. We anticipate that this will worsen in the next 12 months due to the cost of gas and food, in addition to increased utility costs. Families who were on the edge or one paycheck away from financial disaster are going over. We have a waiting list for our homeless services, and we feel that the housing market will keep this list at very high levels until some relief is given in one or more of these areas. Central Illinois is blessed with very strong businesses which have not experienced the same recession as those in other parts of the country. However, the rate of poverty in Peoria has increased dramatically, meaning that several families who at one point would have been considered low-moderate income are now at poverty- level and struggling, even though they are working full time.
Q) With so many projects underway across the region, is the local giving base in danger of being tapped out?
JA: I believe that central Illinois will continue to support organizations that are nimble, aggressive, and passionate and offer practical, relevant examples of their worth and success to the community.
ES: It is said so often that it almost sounds like a cliché, but we truly live in a very giving community—a place where people are generous and consistently demonstrate compassion for others. It has been my experience at Easter Seals for well over 25 years that when people are given the appropriate opportunity, they will act sacrificially to meet the legitimate, compelling needs of others. This is particularly the case when donors are confident that their gifts will result in tangible, measurable benefits. More and more, not-for-profits must not only make a compelling case for support, but also demonstrate, using quantitative outcome measures, that the investments made by donors do in fact yield the intended benefits to the organization, families served and the community at large. Building a broader giving base and maintaining relationships lessen the likelihood that donors will feel “tapped out.”
RCBS: We do compete with many other worthwhile organizations for volunteer time. However, individuals can support these organizations on a regular basis while continuing to support the Red Cross through blood donation. Because it takes just an hour of time every 56 days to donate blood, it’s easy for people to fit it into their busy schedules.
HOIUW: While there is a finite amount of charitable contributions available in the community, the donors we work with—whether they are individuals who give to the United Way through workplace campaigns or companies and organizations that contribute corporate gifts—differentiate between the short-term capital campaigns often focusing on brick-and-mortar projects and annual campaigns like ours that raise dollars for critical health and social service programs that improve people’s lives. What is more concerning are the state and federal cuts that are impacting many of our partner agencies.
MHAIV: On the contrary, we see new avenues of support for our mission. Prevention is being touted, not only as a good idea medically speaking, but from an economic standpoint, the powers-that-be are seeing the wisdom of partnering with nonprofit organizations that can help increase utilization of services through early identification and screening programs. Stigma reduction efforts aimed at decreasing the shame and increasing the understanding surrounding mental illness are the number-one priority of the nation’s call for transformation of the mental health system—the New Freedom Commission (mentalhealthcommission.gov).
Of course, MHAIV has always been a provider of prevention programs, but with the addition of programs like the Columbia University TeenScreen program, we can now link kids at risk to immediate care through our partnerships with direct service providers (teenscreen.org). The outcomes of these programs are staggering, with approximately 20 percent of those who voluntarily participate being referred on for further evaluation and counseling. Growth areas like this are setting the stage for new enthusiasm for prevention programs like those we provide, generating new donations and grant opportunities.
YWCA: There does seem to be a certain amount of donor fatigue. If the project is worthwhile, though, the donor community always seems to come through. I do feel there needs to be a balance between quality-of-life issues for those with means and quality-of-life issues for those who are living day to day. We have to create a balance in our community for these initiatives.
Q) Are there ways in which businesses can help that are often overlooked?
JA: Many nonprofits ask for funding so their staff can go and work on their mission. Nonprofits that can involve their funders directly in their mission give them the absolute most practical experience, and they then get to see why that nonprofit does what it does.
ES: Businesses can help in many ways. Employers may find that volunteer experiences can be valuable tools in leadership development for their employees. Encouraging and facilitating employees to volunteer can be a win-win-win proposition. Local businesses can share their expertise in areas ranging from finance and marketing to fundraising and program services.
Businesses can “adopt a cabin” at Easter Seals Timber Point Outdoor Center, match employee contributions or fundraising efforts tied to the Easter Seals Telethon VIP Campaign, arrange for an employee service project, donate in-kind goods or services, devote a few minutes as part of the next departmental staff meeting for Easter Seals to share its mission and vision, or feature a family receiving Easter Seals services in their next employee newsletter.
Easter Seals works with local businesses to create win-win, cause-related marketing programs, build customized corporate partnerships or otherwise help businesses “do well by doing good.”
Employees often enjoy using their talent and expertise outside their own work environment to assist a not-for-profit directly. Currently, Easter Seals is benefiting from the expertise of both OSF Healthcare System and Caterpillar as it deploys Six Sigma.
RCBS: Because our society is so pressed for time, donors want convenient donation opportunities where they live, work and play. Organizations can easily support us by hosting a blood drive at their site or place of business. We are always looking for new sponsors and welcome interested businesses or organizations to contact us by calling 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.
HOIUW: Nonprofit organizations always need volunteers to effectively reach goals and serve the community. The Heart of Illinois United Way utilizes volunteers in all aspects of our operations—from raising money and marketing to reviewing grants and agency operations. Corporate volunteerism can be highly effective at building employee morale and generating community goodwill for the company. Effective volunteer programs are aligned with company goals, are based on employee interests, and work with community leaders who know what, where and when help is needed. And it’s not just for large companies—many smaller, growing companies also reap the benefits of employee volunteer programs because it generates teamwork and publicity.
MHAIV: Businesses are comprised of people—people who benefit from the programs we nonprofits provide. Through business’ support of United Way campaigns and through developing collaborative partnerships, there are always new possibilities for serving the people they employ.
One example is the Real Men Real Depression awareness campaign created by the National Institute of Mental Health and brought to our community by MHAIV, with initial support provided by the City of Peoria Community Development Block Grant. When local companies began hosting this campaign internally, employers saw immediate results. One reported seeing a sustained increase in the utilization of the employee assistance program to the tune of 30 to 40 percent. That is a truly remarkable example of collaboration, wherein MHAIV and the company sought to do the same thing: promote wellness. This also affects the company’s bottom line, because when employers proactively address issues related to mental health and encourage employees to take care of their own wellness, the results are not only good for the employee and his/her family, but good for profits and the relationship between the employer and employee. It’s a win-win-win situation.
YWCA: Expertise in certain areas which we cannot afford to have as staff positions would be welcomed! For example, most agencies don’t have human resource departments. We have a variety of people responsible for those functions, with the majority falling upon the shoulders of the executive director. This type of expertise offered to an agency on a regular basis would assist in personnel management, thereby freeing up the time of the executive to focus on program delivery and mission.
In-kind donations are always welcomed as well, such as one-day projects which make a quick hit on the facilities of the association (such as painting walls in the child care or shelter), allowing maintenance departments to devote their energies elsewhere.
Q) What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received about running a nonprofit?
JA: People give to people, not to causes.
ES: The best advice I’ve received and continue to give to those in the not-for-profit sector is simply this: Have a passionate sense of mission. Bring competence and compassion to what you love to do. Serve at a place where you want to be and with people you enjoy. Build lasting relationships. Make it fun.
RCBS: Remember the mission in all that you do. Our humanitarian work is important and people rely on us to respond quickly and efficiently whenever there is a need.
HOIUW: Someone once shared with me, “Good leaders do things right, great leaders do the right things.” It’s important to always conduct yourself and make decisions that uphold the integrity of your organization. In addition, no matter the circumstances, never lose perspective on the mission and goals of your organization.
MHAIV: My greatest piece of advice came, unwittingly, from my trigonometry teacher at Peoria High School, Louise McCann, who gave the same advice to all Peoria High graduates. This advice is included in the document she gave us upon graduation, entitled “Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership”:
“If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway…What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway…People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them. Help them anyway…Give the world the best you have and you can get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.”
I have reflected on this advice again and again…and I wonder, how could she have known I was planning to work in the nonprofit sector?
YWCA: Learn to be a “jack of all trades” and be comfortable in not mastering any one. This doesn’t mean that an executive doesn’t have a skill which is better than another, it just means you need to know a little about a lot of things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use your volunteers to fill in the gaps.
Q) Which is more important: management skills or fundraising abilities?
JA: Fundraising abilities, so the professionals I’m privileged to work with can impart their knowledge and skill to others, giving them a real experience.
ES: Both management skills and fundraising abilities are important. However, the chief executive officer in the not-for-project sector is increasingly valued for his or her fundraising abilities. CEOs are often considered integral members of the organization’s development team. As organizations grow, many choose to hire a chief operating officer or other “second in command” to focus more on day-to-day operations and management.
That said, perhaps more important than either is leadership. I believe that committed, visionary, servant leadership is one of the hallmarks of successful not-for-profit entities. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, talks about what he calls “Level 5 Leadership.” Collins describes these leaders as ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the organization, the work. They possess what he describes as a fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to further the mission while demonstrating a blend of personal humility and professional will.
RCBS: Strong management skills are essential to our operations and allow us to recruit donors and volunteers to support our organization.
HOIUW: Obviously both are critical to a nonprofit’s success. However, management skills are paramount because good leadership provides vision, direction and motivation to volunteers and staff, which can naturally result in good fundraising skills. Nonprofit managers must create an enthusiastic and diverse team of staff and volunteers with different skill sets to accomplish the goals of an organization.
MHAIV: Management and fundraising are both about relationships. The National Association of Social Workers asks social workers to respect the core principles of its code of ethics, and I believe that one of the most valuable principles is to recognize and respect “the importance of human relationships.” This principle explains, “Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process. Social workers seek to strengthen relationships among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain and enhance the well-being of individuals, families, social groups, organizations and communities.” Upholding this and other core principles and remembering the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm”—these are both central to management and to successful fundraising. It helps with diplomacy, too.
YWCA: It depends on the organization. I feel that management skills are more important because we need to deliver results. Fundraising is a component of management. iBi