Making Things Better

Trying to get back into it. For 12 or so years, I wrote a blog at least once a week; a newsletter every month; random other articles for other publications.  I had so much to say!  But, it turns out, sometimes fundraising feels like such a small pool.  So for the past month or two, as my new website got finished (do check it out: and we discovered issues with my Too Busy To Fundraise blogsite (suffice it say, beware of who you give permissions to), I went cold turkey.

The more I didn’t write (and yes, I get it—it is an oxymoron), the harder it became to find things I wanted to write about.  Besides, so much of my writing has been taken up in rewriting one of my 4 online classes ( and realizing just how fundraising has changed since the person who originally developed this class put it up.  I wouldn’t recommend taking this class now—wait until 2020 when the revised version is done.

But you didn’t come to this blog to read about my travails.  You probably have issues of your own.  If you are a boss, you’re probably wondering why your fundraising staff (a) isn’t reaching their goals and/or (b) why you can’t keep even underperforming (by the standards set via those unattainable goals) fundraising staff. The reason, of course, is right there in the second parenthetical comment.

If you are staff, you might just be feeling burnt out.  This ridiculous goals with no support structures.  Why do you even get up in the morning?

Of course, we all get up because of the causes and people we serve.  We care about this sector and just want to make it better.

If you are a boss, one way to make it better is to support your fundraising staff.  They help to make sure that the important work you do gets done. Provide them with professional development (a fundraising coach would be awesome—and not a whole lot of money). More, provide them with an environment that says what they do is critical and—even more importantly—they are not doing it alone.

Create a culture of philanthropy at your organization.  Make sure all your staff and your board understand that they are fundraisers too. That means that they need to know what is going on beyond their office.  They need to speak positively about the organization; glowingly about the work that gets done.  They need to share insights into the community with the development team (even if it is a team of one) and work to spread the word about the organization.

A culture of philanthropy means that fundraising is no longer the thing off to the side that we whisper about and feel embarrassed that we have to do.  It means, rather, that we recognize that it must sit equally at the table, as important as programs and administration.  That the fundraiser must be welcomed at board meetings and asked to share what is going on in her department and in her world.  It also means that just as you don’t want your board telling you how to do your day to day business, you don’t want them telling your development staff how to do theirs.  No, thank you very much, another event will NOT increase your fundraising results, nor will it matter much what kind of centerpiece graces the table of the event you already have to deal with.  And no, sending out 100 ill thought out grants is not helpful to anyone—not to the foundations, your development director, you!

Supporting others to do their jobs well is arguably the hardest job any of us have.  But whether you work at or volunteer with a nonprofit, hard is what you do best.  As things seem to spiral out of control in the rest of the world, let’s all work together to strengthen our sector and make the good things we do for others even better.

Janet Levine helps nonprofits move from mired to inspired.  Learn more at  And do contact Janet for a free 30-minute consultation to start you on the road to more success.




About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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