Special Feature: Is Your CEO Spending Enough Time with Donors?

This article is available until April 2, 2017
Is Your CEO Spending Enough Time with Donors? I was recently asked by a board member at our 301 Workshop, "Just how much time should our CEO be spending on all of this?" My reply: "Somewhere between 20% and 80% of his time." I went on, fairly forcefully, asking, "What else does a CEO have to do that is more important—and for which he or she is uniquely qualified—than this?"

Much to my delight, everyone on their team nodded in relief. People who ask that question already see the direct correlation between CEO time spent cultivating and bottom-line fundraising results. After implementing the model successfully for a year or two and getting to know their donors personally, many CEOs admit that they really enjoy this type of cultivation. They have now been coached to speak powerfully about their missions, and they realize they are not "begging" for a handout, but rather they are asking people to get involved with a mission they already care about. In other words, they begin to see that they are helping donors do something that is meaningful to them. And who better than the CEO to explain to the donor what every dollar will be used for?

Even the more reluctant CEOs begin to see the value in setting aside time for donor cultivation and asking, often accompanied by a staff or board member. I have received many nice notes from CEOs thanking us for not "making them" ask people for money. A true Visionary Leader does not necessarily have to be the one to "pop the question" at an Ask visit. But it will mean a great deal to the donor to have them be present. Likewise, there is no substitute for an occasional phone call or email from that CEO directly to the donor, just to update them on what's happening in the organization and to express genuine personal interest in how that donor is doing.

Once the team has seen the value of more CEO time spent on cultivation, a major reallocation of workloads often ensues. We have had many groups decide to restructure and add a COO to relieve the CEO of the daily management responsibility (which has often become tedious and unchallenging to a passionate Visionary Leader). Other groups choose to reallocate the work of their fund-development staff, perhaps moving a special-events person up into the role of Team Leader and elevating the former Team Leader to full-time major gifts. While this may sound like a costly use of resources, after several years of successful implementation, engaging more and more board members in the process, everyone sees the wisdom of making these "investments."

Contact Benevon today to learn how the Benevon Model for nonprofit fundraising can help you develop an effective fundraising campaign and cultivate committed lifelong donors.

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