If you’re an ambitious fundraiser, advice for your next job interview . . .

Tom Ahern

What is the Mt. Everest-sized obstacle which prevents many nonprofits (yours?) from taking advantage of “donor-centricity”?


It could very well be your charity’s reely stoopid approval process.

Said another way: IGNORANCE in positions of authority.

I’ve seen it over (2001) and over (2004) and over (2005) and over (2008) and over (2011) and over (2012) and over (2014) and over (2017) and ….

So, CEO, you call yourself a “leader”?

Then please get this straight.

In a well-managed fundraising operation, just ONE person exercises full and dictatorial control over donor communications …

and that person is the chief fundraiser.

  • NOT the executive director. (Dear boss: judge your fundraiser’s metrics, not her grammar.)
  • NOT the board chair. (Almost universally clueless about donor communications … and prone to overstepping.)
  • NOT a committee. (Don’t get me started; we’ll be here all day and cursing will rule.)

Charities: It’s about time you got this into your by-laws

Donor communications are the fundraiser’s responsibility. End of story. Period. Exclamation point!

If you want better results, this business best-practice is non-negotiable. (Yup: your charity is the exception to the rule. NOT!)

Success at everything from auto repair to fundraising requires training … not guesswork

The fundraiser’s communications responsibilities will likely include the following:

  • direct mail appeals
  • emailed appeals
  • some of your social media content
  • grant applications
  • newsletters to supporters (print and digital)
  • annual reports
  • fact sheets
  • event invitations and event messaging
  • major sections of your website (such as the home and giving pages)
  • even certain speeches and public relations

Dear Silly Nervous Bosses:

This does NOT mean your chief fundraiser won’t show you what she’s about to send out … as a courtesy and, just as important, as a double-check on facts.
But it DOES mean she should NOT need to seek your approval to do communications exactly as she sees fit … without delay or obstruction from you … from the board chair … from others on the board … or from some jackass committee of risk-averse know-nothings you’ve empowered to second-guess.

Learn morea bout Tom at http://www. aherncomm.com

To be blunt.

It’s your fundraiser’s neck on the line, after all.
Her job is to achieve your nonprofit’s giving goals.

Don’t get in her way.

It’s counter-lucrative.

Judge her by results alone: things life Lifetime Value and donor retention and average-gift size and bequests realized.
I speak from decades of experience with all sorts of charities around the world; small, medium and very large.

I guarantee you: untrained opinions, no matter how well-intentioned, REDUCE giving.

There are no exceptions I know of.

Ignorance is not your super-power.