JVA’s new Development Director Breakfast Club stresses team approach in fundraising

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

In January 2012, in response to requests for ongoing professional development opportunities, JVA launched a new breakfast club series geared toward development directors. Held once a month, these clubs give development directors an outlet to test ideas and gather feedback from peers on fundraising challenges and opportunities.

Since beginning our Development Director Breakfast Club in January, many pearls of wisdom have been shared by our expert JVA staff, guest speakers who are leaders in the field and nonprofit professionals from all walks of life. Of all these lessons, one particular theme, summed up by JVA Senior Associate Ashley Kasprzak, continues to shape every discussion: “No matter the development effort, it takes a team approach to effectively fundraise and friend raise.” Keep reading for more lessons learned and to find out about upcoming breakfast clubs.

In January, our first DD Breakfast Club kicked off with a discussion titled Updating Your Grants and Outreach With 2011 Outcomes. The discussion covered all the moving parts of a grant proposal and the most compelling information that should be updated annually. Though the narrative must flow easily for the grant reviewers, the information in the narrative often comes from several sources: program numbers and outcomes from program staff, volunteer hours from the volunteer coordinator and so on. It takes a team to coordinate and track all your organization’s efforts and therefore takes the same team to make a grant proposal stellar.

In February, JVA hosted guest speaker Mandy O’Neill, principal of ConnectedNonprofit, to talk about How to Use Technology to Capture Stories About Program Outcomes. To attract more individual donors, a popular development technique these days is to use multiple channels of social media. If your organization has a staff member dedicated to marketing, it is important to work with this person to ensure that you project a unified message that compels social media followers to become donors. No matter if you are a one-person or 10-person shop, consider which social media your donors engage in and spend your time there.

If your organization is growing, it might be time to consider a capital campaign. In March’s Launching a Capital Campaign with guest Scott Stonehill of Stonehill Consulting Group, LLC, participants were taught how to decide if a capital campaign is right for their organization and how to begin. Scott stressed the importance of including the board in determining feasibility and strategy, stressing that it is invaluable to utilize their knowledge and skills throughout a capital campaign project. Large-scale fundraising and expansion requires that everyone be engaged, staff and board alike.

For those who are focused on expanding not just their space but also their resources, JVA offered a session in April called How to Diversify Your Revenue. JVA’s Ashley Kasprzak spoke to the innumerable methods of fundraising, including grants, special events, direct mail, sponsorships and e-giving, among others. When exploring new means of fundraising, it is important to leverage the skills of every team member, from you volunteers to your board and your staff. Use the collective wisdom at your organization to paint the best picture of your organization and its services and execute outreach with ease.

Building upon the common thread of teamwork, this month’s upcoming breakfast club, Developing a Culture of Fundraising, will teach participants to create a sense of group responsibility around fund development efforts. Attendees will acquire the skills to motivate every member of their organization to contribute their unique talents to year-round fundraising efforts. If you want to hear about the successes of your peers and discuss your ongoing questions and challenges with a fundraising expert, join us June 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. for another inspiring session of Development Director Breakfast Club.

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