Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't force nonprofit staff to ask their personal networks for donations.

Many people have worked at nonprofit organizations where people were expected to fundraise when their job didn't have much to do with fundraising- even worse, they were expected and even guilted into asking their personal networks for donations.

In my opinion, this is wrong. Although, I am a believer that pretty much all jobs have something to do with fundraising. I think if you are going to expect all employees to fundraise, that expectation needs to be included in their job description and clearly communicated to them. For most nonprofit workers, it doesn't work like that. They start a job as the Office Manager or Program Coordinator and when a big event comes along, so does the pressure for them to sell tickets to their friends, families and others in their personal network.

While not communicating expectations about fundraising to non-fundraising staff is frustrating, I think the bigger sin is forcing and guilting staff into asking their personal networks for donations or to buy tickets. If staff volunteer to do this, then there isn't a problem. But in many cases it is an unpublicized mandate and if you don't want to do it, people secretly question your commitment or say things like "you'll do this because we need money for your program (job, computer, etc)." Not only should a staff member not be forced into this, but they also shouldn't be looked down upon because they don't want to go to their personal networks for money. Nowadays, people have multiple charities they support. While they probably feel at least somewhat passionate about the organization where they are working, they probably also serve on a nonprofit board and volunteer for another nonprofit- both of which they fundraise for.

In short, it's ok to expect all staff to help with fundraising- as long as those expectations are clear from the start- but don't force or guilt staff into asking friends and family for money. They may or may not do it, but it's their decision and it doesn't make them less committed.


crossn81 said...

I would agree with your post but with maybe a slight exception. I think most of the upper-management types could be expected to be active in fundraising, but I also imagine they are more likely to have that built into their job description. I think all staff should be encouraged to invite people to events, etc - but there should definitely not be an expectation of it.

Nonprofit SOS said...


Thanks for your comment. I completely agree- Executive Directors, Associate Directors, etc should all assume fundraising will be an expectation- but you are right, their job description likely includes it already (and if it doesn't, it should). I also think there is a fine line between letting everyone know they can invite family and friends to a fundraising event, and asking them to send a fundraising letter (that has been drafted for this purpose) to their personal network.