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Rethinking Board-Advancement Partnerships in Light of New Realities

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Presentation on theme: "Rethinking Board-Advancement Partnerships in Light of New Realities"— Presentation transcript:

1 Rethinking Board-Advancement Partnerships in Light of New Realities
James M. Langley, President Amy Gregg, Senior Associate Langley Innovations

2 Partnerships Areas where partnering is most essential
Strategic information gathering Volunteer identification and engagement Projecting a plan for the school, not just making a case for more private support Not about fundraising, but creating the conditions that encourage and inspire philanthropy

3 New Realities New realities
A smaller percentage of donors influencing fundraising totals An erosion of long-term, broad based support, the bond portion of our philanthropic portfolios Fundraisers having greater difficulty in securing appointments with new donors Skepticism toward all contact from schools (tantamount to a request for funds) Even insiders rebuffing requests for feasibility studies Loyal donors asking for a plan not another case for support

4 New Realities New realities
A rigorous questioning of our cost-value proposition Educational cost as a percentage of family income The economic contraction revealed these issues but did not cause them Gaps have been slowly growing The realities of the school vs. the perception of constituents For all institutions

5 New Realities What in fact we’re seeing are three realities that are continuing to diverge; that of The board/administration The advancement operation The current and prospective donors The most successful schools will have the strongest alignment of those realities

6 New Realities

7 Barriers and gateways

8 New Realities The keys to securing more support in the face of these challenges are not: Increasing the number of fundraisers Being more aggressive Strengthening communications Launching a traditional campaign (based on long-held assumptions) Particularly if you are emphasizing capital improvements

9 Strategic Information Gathering

10 New Realities The area where boards and advancement operations need to effect the strongest collaborations is in and around intelligence gathering In exploring the potential divergence between what schools are seeking support for vs. what their supporters assign the greatest value to And the degree to which its most important current and prospective supporters feel valued by the school – for their time and talents, not just their treasure

11 New Realities The way to accomplish both – to explore the gaps between the expectations of the school and those who might support it, and to make your current and potential supporters feel value – is to interview them Board – top donors and prospects, loyal donors Head – commissions, blue ribbon panels Advancing – polling (through means generally reserved for one-way communications)

12 New Realities The Georgetown Experience
93% - excellent or very good education 84% - “profound impact” on my life 17% - giving

13 New Realities Student Discovery 7,000 interviews
Alumni assured they would not be asked Overall giving (among lapsed donors) increased by 43% 20 percent gave their largest gift ever “I never felt more respected” “I can’t believe you sent someone all this way just to see me”

14 New Realities Experience of other institutions Discovery interviews
Annual fund Pre-campaign Salon events Curricular reviews/longitudinal assessments Encouragement of class notes, “share your voice”

15 New Realities When relationship management appears to be relegated to advancement (or development), the constituent draws the obvious conclusion – the value the school assigns to me is conditional Yet, the potential supporter thinks about a different set of conditions – time, talent and treasure Volunteers give 10X

16 New Realities Relationship management should be, and perceived as, coming from the very top Current donors – most likely to give Lapsed donors, LYBUNTS Major gift stewardship/review

17 Volunteers Donor Questions Was the experience satisfying?
Do you feel good about the impact of your gift? Was there an emotional return on your investment? Do you feel closer to the school as a result? What have been your most positive interactions? Who best exemplifies what you most value about the school? How could your relationship with the school be improved? How do you feel about the direction of the school?

18 New Realities Donor Interviews Ongoing feasibility
Not just the usual sampling Skewed results Identifying barriers and gateways Even if you are in a campaign, this outreach gives you time to adjust/adapt Many will be more candid with you than with the staff, and more apt to speak with you than a consultant

19 New Realities Prospect Questions What issues concern you most?
What do you hope for your children? What must never change about this school? Where do you think change is most needed? How have you been involved? When was your last engagement, interaction

20 Volunteer Identification and Engagement

21 New Realities The next most important area for board-advancement partnerships is strategic volunteer engagement Seek out relevant talents Look for those who are grateful (in general) and don’t take sole credit for their talents (self-made) Put them to work – task or task force Beware of boards, committees

22 Volunteers Don’t build advancement staff, add volunteers
Create one-hour work modules Provide toolkits Train Monitor performance

23 Volunteers Time/talent is a treasure (must be a true offset of costs)
Volunteers should not cost an organization Not a form of entertainment Predictive of future treasure giving (money) Think of every genuine need as an engagement opportunity Greatest costs -- salaries

24 Volunteers Identification/Recruitment
The best are the hardest to get, take the most time to court but ultimately make all the difference Don’t just accommodate those who come to you looking for something to do Avoid the “heavy hitter” syndrome, look for the mission driven, socially responsible, those who give outside their immediate self-interest Create a farm system – task at time

25 Volunteers If you survey your constituents – by any means – you will find a pent up desire to “be more engaged” Engaging volunteers allows you show not tell, create a greater sense of ownership, shared purposes

26 Volunteers Mayflower Compact 1620
“ …combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation …; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony.” Preamble to the Constitution, 1787 “We the people ….”

27 Projecting A Plan

“There’s a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits to build greater awareness and understanding of how they manage their organizations by sharing insights into their funding structure, project management and volunteer coordination practices. Transparency through open and frequent communication with current and prospective donors should always remain a priority.” -Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Volunteer Match Survey

29 Projecting a Plan “Americans are practical people. They want explanations not soaring rhetoric.” Value/cost proposition Role of philanthropy

30 Maintaining Relevance: A Sustainable Model
Traditional/Existing Strengths Alignment Potential +$ Current and Emerging Realties Opportunities (Intellectual) Limitations (Fiscal) Challenges (Moral) Diminished Relevance/Efficiency -$ New Capabilities Strategic/Obligatory Adjustments Strategy: The Means by Which Internal Aspirations Are Conditioned by External Realities

31 Projecting a Plan Increasingly important starting points in philanthropic discussions What difficult decisions have you made? How have you reallocated resources – from inefficient uses obsolescent purpose to efficient uses and a strategic purposes What specific objectives do you hope to achieve with specific levels of private support

32 Projecting a Plan Increasingly important starting points in philanthropic discussions Sources and uses Tuition dollars vs. private support Core needs vs. the margin of excellence Value sustaining vs. value added Growing numbers of donors express a concern that fundraising is being used to patch over systemic issues, avoid difficult decisions and that they don’t see the net impact of their support over time

33 Projecting a Plan Absent this, advancement staff, no matter how capable, will have an increasingly difficult time securing appointments, particularly with new prospects Even when they are able to secure appointments, they will have difficulty advancing the discussion; prospects will remain “in cultivation” They will be viewed as nice sales people incapable of addressing critical issues – and that will say something about the schools that deploy them

34 New Realities Old paradigm New paradigm Identify, cultivate, solicit
Afford voice, validate, volunteer talent, promote ownership through problem and opportunity sharing We the people …a more perfect union

35 Volunteers Questions?

36 The Right Environment

37 Real Work

38 Volunteers Real Work Beyond boards, please (especially fundraising boards) Task forces Blue ribbon panels Commissions Immerse in mission, delivery systems Touch the baby, render real service Trust

39 Volunteers Real Issues Emotional health Family health/dynamics
The creation of community Students as stakeholders, responsible The anatomy of bullying, alienation Commitment to a common cause The celebration of values Athletics vs. academics

40 Volunteers Create work modules Look at political campaigns
Define important work that can be done in one hour, try out volunteer, increase increments according to interest, capability and performance (Student Discovery example) Tours Interviews/Polling/Market Research Peer to peer Parent to parent

41 Volunteers Create work modules
The running of every organization requires the assessment of what people are capable of doing and finding the appropriate level of work People with sophisticated skills do not want to be assigned administrative tasks If administrative tasks need be completed, find volunteers capable of and content with doing them Phone answering, stuffing envelopes, staffing events

42 Matching Talents to Tasks

43 Volunteers Reached a point where the greater logic says that volunteers need to be a permanent and critical extension of the professional organization How we began How we got so much done Institutions over-professionalized, stilted volunteer spirit Cannot continue to increase costs Need more financial support

44 Volunteers Need to think about building a professional organization and think about volunteers as non-paid, part-time professionals Job definition Recruitment/application Goals, objectives, metrics Performance reviews

45 Volunteers Volunteer Skills
High end abilities that we couldn’t otherwise afford (voluntarism tied to years of formal education) Investing Law Strategy Marketing Computer science Health

46 Volunteers Think of professional staff as functional core
Volunteers as selective, strategic augmentation Advertise, interview for specific skills Create a certain amount of redundancy Stop thinking of them as prospects Humoring, ingratiating Tiptoeing around

47 Volunteers Every time someone says, “I need more staff to ….”
Ask ourselves if that need represents an opportunity for volunteer contribution Peter Drucker – A knowledge worker needs to be treated like a volunteer Need to explore the relationship of control to productivity

48 Avoiding Myths, Assumptions, Linear Thinking

49 Volunteers Volunteers are unmanageable, undependable
How much time did you spend seeking out specialized talent vs. accommodating those that showed up? When you don’t train and trust, how do you expect people to feel valued and essential to the enterprise? When someone is given inconsequential work, how do you expect them to stay motivated? If volunteers are highly successful in their professions, how could they not offer valuable service?

50 Volunteers In too many cases, volunteer sub-optimization is attributable to one primary cause – urgent, unimaginative fundraising “Volunteers” were/are really prospects; we sought to engage them to advance the fundraising process Since they were more prospect than volunteer, we put them on boards and put on shows for them

51 Volunteers We need to get real Real skill Real work Real contributions
Real assessments Real decisions Real results

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