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The term development is often considered a synonym, or even a euphemism, for

fundraising. But successful fundraising operations depend on embracing a broader


understanding that development is an effort by an entire organization to realize its
maximum potential and its highest destiny (on behalf of the stakeholders it serves and
aspires to serve) by performing three essential functions:

• Continuously analyzing the organization’s mission, programs, and services


• Establishing strategic goals and objectives for the future
• Taking the necessary action to achieve those goals and objectives

The true concept of development reaches far beyond the development office; it is a
shared institutional responsibility. No development program can attain its purpose
without a team approach and total institutional commitment.

Development is a line function in authentic nonprofit organizations, no less dispensable


than accounting/finance and other fundamental business functions. However, since the
ultimate measure of development is the retention and expansion of support and resources
necessary to fulfill a public mission worthy of investment, if a nonprofit organization is
to succeed, its development program must succeed—and the success of the development
program is akin to success of the “entire” organization.

In order for a development program to translate into meaningful fundraising, it needs to


establish ten prerequisite elements:

1. Commitments of time and support from all key participants (the governing board,
chief executive officers, prospective major contributors, the professional staff, and
institutional family and friends.)
2. An articulate and convincing organizational self-image as well as a strategic plan
for organizational growth and improvement.
3. Fundraising objectives based on important and legitimate institutional plans,
goals, budgets, and needs (if the institution is worth supporting, its plans must
embody something to sell.)
4. A compelling case that can be expressed in writing, graphically and through other
engaging collateral support materials and presentations.
5. Assessments of internal and external preparedness and market analyses oriented
to match the organization’s goals with contributors’ interests. (Rather than
pleading for sustenance, opportunities for investment must be presented to
financial supporters acting in willing concert as committed partners to realize a
valued mission.)
6. Orientation and education of trustees and other influential volunteer leaders.
7. Ability and readiness of identifiable contributors1 to give substantial lead gifts
early in the fundraising effort to create momentum and incentive for others.
8. Competent, adequate staff, supplemented by external consulting support as
needed.
9. Ample funding for expenses.
10. Consideration of other factors which, rather than determining whether the
fundraising initiative should be undertaken, tend to determine the size of its goal
and its timing in terms of both length and starting date. Chief factors for ILSI:

• Caliber of its constituency-capacity and inclination of current and veteran


leaders to make gifts, and perceived urgency, importance, and relevance
on the part of other sources of funds.
• Geographic reach-demographic and motivational factors are the most
important determinants of the ability of a constituency to support a
fundraising effort. However the geographical distribution of the
constituency must be considered in determining preparedness and the size
of a goal that is realistic. Less time, money, and staff are needed to
organize and manage a fundraising program in local a geographic area,
such as a city or region, than one that is national or international, which
presents more complex organizational problems.
• Societal factors-Certain nonprofit sectors seem to enjoy greater, more
enduring support than others. However, economic, political, attitudinal,
and mood changes affect giving trends. Also, new and emerging causes
can eclipse causes whose market currency has waned. For example,
HIV/AIDS epidemic has given rise to entirely new cause in the past fifteen
years, but once Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine, the March of
Dimes faced going out of business or “re-inventing” itself (the latter of
which it did.) Public views of “corporate-sponsored” science similarly
challenge ILSI’s value proposition. Fortunately, entire new directions of
giving present ILSI with opportunities to expand and diversify support. In
Giving USA, 1986 six dominant sectors were identified: religion;
education; health; human services; arts, culture and humanities; and
public/social policy. By 1998, Giving USA listed two more distinct
sectors: environment/wildlife and international/global affairs.
• Image-unfavorable publicity can crush fundraising initiatives before
they’re off the ground and even dramatically affect established revenue-
generating programs, including corporate membership solicitations.
Accordingly, combining short-term communications readiness/response
with more comprehensive branding are investments ILSI cannot afford to
shortchange.
1
There are three levels of potential contributors: expects have given substantial amounts in the past and can
be expected to do so again if properly stewarded, cultivated and solicited; prospects have supported the
organization in the past, but are capable of increasing the amount; suspects are potential contributors but
not a real prospects. Legitimate prospects have not only the financial means to give, but demonstrated
interest and involvement and, generally, some history of giving in the past. Pursuing suspects to become
prospects is consumes more time, energy, and resources. But short of a care and will give, potential must
be turned probability through the cultivation cycle.
Given the broader but critical challenge which creating a profitable development function
entails, attention to ILSI’s immature capacity and deteriorating infrastructure overpower
expectations for precisely detailed fundraising plans with predictable financial outcomes.
Contrary to being wasteful of resources devoted to the effort, failure to address
fundamental institutional weaknesses will not only place the whole marketing/fundraising
initiative at risk, but predestine its failure.

The Chief Development Officer (CDO), corroborated by the Marketing and Fundraising
Plan endorsed by the Board at the annual meeting, presumes that adequate capacity and
infrastructure are essential to effective fund development. Our member companies as
well as other past, current and potential contributors prefer to give to well-managed and
well governed institutions. All expect us (the board) to manage money properly; comply
with all legal and regulatory requirements (applicable international cross-border, national,
state and local); make informed decisions, coherent decisions; and assess objectively our
services with an eye towards improvement. Contracting resources, coupled with
negligible fundraising commitments is not responsible stewardship or a defense for
spending inadequate funds on administrative expenses to insure effective accounting
systems, internal controls, and competent staff, as well as other expenditures critical to
professional management.

In order for the CDO to do her job, and the Marketing and Fundraising Committee to
fulfill its leadership role to the full board, we need to have input into current planning
processes to identify and create opportunities for participation and a sense of ownership
among prospective supporters. This must be coupled by a disciplined, ILSI-wide effort
to gather information, explore strategic alternatives, and evaluate future implications of
current decisions on what we are, what we do, and why we do it. Dedication to the
branding effort will go a long way towards creating this strategic framework.

Following years of abstract discussions about the interdependence of branding and


marketing to fundraising potential, we finally gained the advantage of counsel, from
Burson-Marsteller, to inform “following-through” with first-hand perspective on the
priorities of our core constituents, member companies and public health decision-makers,
along with new stakeholders/partners that will strengthen our competitive advantage for
funding, credibility, and impact. If the leadership of ILSI can’t rise to the occasion to
capitalize on this opportunity, it is unreasonable to expect “returns” from other
relationships forged by the CDO with prospects and contributors, lacking caring,
responsive board members.

The Board of Trustees of ILSI, and the Boards of its affiliated entities, holds ultimate
responsibility for a stable, adequate funding base and organizational
sustainability/longevity. Since successful development and, in turn, fundraising depend
on an organization-wide commitment to realizing a mission and viable future, board
leadership and governance are definitive. Typically, contributions from trustees and the
foundations/firms they control account for 20 percent to 50 percent of a fundraising goal.
Even if we decide to maintain that the exceptional natures of our boards justifies not
putting our personal skins in the game, ILSI trustees must learn and adopt means of
accommodating this obligatory fiduciary responsibility. Board members must actively
promote ILSI’s development and fundraising goals, using professional and personal
contacts, and accept/ participate in training and development to overcome insular
perspectives that cloud understanding of the organization’s context and discourage
accessing external resources.

The best development professionals know more than the basics of capacity and
infrastructure development, and identify and fix problems that obstruct organizational
progress. ILSI and all of the individuals accountable for it are helped, not hindered by a
CDO experienced in board governance, legal/regulatory requirements (and liabilities),
marketing and communications, financial management, business operations, strategic
planning and management, program development, and external/inter-stakeholder
relations. Educating us about how and why these functions affect fundraising capability
gives ILSI the best chance to create an organizational culture conducive to success.

The caliber of organizational development and leadership skills of the CDO are no more
critical than in relation to the strengths, capabilities, personalities, and management styles
of CEO’s/Executive Directors. No matter what other valuable contributions these top
leaders make to the quality of the organizations they serve, they will have failed if their
institution’s missions are financially shortchanged. Thus, chief executives shouldn’t
sidestep primary accountability for fundraising; however, their specific involvement can
be tailored to their experience, personal strengths and competing responsibilities as long
as the CDO possesses compensatory skills and authority to steer, facilitate and execute:

• Leading the institutional planning process and advocating for the plan
• Opening doors for fundraising to key constituents and prospects
• Building bridges of understanding and acceptance among board leaders and all
other key stakeholders
• Removing roadblocks that impede or imperil fundraising success, and overcome
concerns of prospective supporters should they arise
• Cultivating and closing gifts
• Stewarding relationships, especially by expressing appreciation and gratitude to
contributors, volunteers, and staff for their involvement.