We know intrinsically that the work we do has a high value for our organizations. We know the work we do is indispensable for a healthy fundraising program. We know that without our impact, our organizations would raise a fraction of what they currently raise. Understanding and expressing that value has for a long time been hard to pin down and express in a way that elevates. Until now. Precision Prospect Development shows us the way. It translates our work into value and in a language the senior leadership can understand and lays out strategies and tactics to help you achieve maximum success.
This inability to articulate our value in the language of senior leadership has been a major roadblock for our profession. It is one of the leading reasons why there is such little representation of Prospect Development folks at the senior leadership table. If you run some basic searches on LinkedIn or Google, you will find that there are only a handful of folks at the AVP or VP level in our field. If you run the same search for every other department in a development shop, be it annual giving, planned giving, major giving, corporate giving, foundation giving, principal giving, you will find that the complete opposite is true. For practically every organization that has a mature or large development shop with at least 30 employees, there will exist an AVP and/or VP in each of these areas.
This doesn’t sit well with me. This has to change. Why are we so underrepresented at the table? Why do we need to have the occasional champion on the front-lines write articles on their blog or on LinkedIn, cheerleading our value proposition to their peers as if our value proposition needs defending, as if it is not widely accepted amongst all organizations that Prospect Development is an essential piece of the development puzzle, and that to muzzle us by not giving us a seat at the table is detrimental to an organization’s health? An understanding of The Why can help us to quickly correct this travesty so that future generations of Prospect Development folks will be amazed to learn that their pioneering predecessors ever had anything but the seat of honor at the leadership table.
We need to change our categorization in the hierarchy of development from cost center to revenue generator.
Prospect Development is a revenue generator. We are in the relationship business. We are highly valuable to the bottom-line and our work has a direct impact on dollars in the door. Adding more boots on the ground is not always the answer when a revenue increase is sought after. Increasing your prospect development staff so that you have healthy balance of researcher to field officer is vital to the success of our organizations.
We are in a unique position in our organizations in that we interact with all units. We are like a central hub connected to every program. We have the ability to influence and impact beyond any other unit in our organizations. We must harness this power with a focus on the bottom-line as much as possible. If we think of ourselves as fundraisers and operate our programs in accordance with this focus, the sky is the limit on what we can achieve.
I hope you will join us in Columbus on May 10th to learn more about how to position yourself and your department for success and how harnessing the power of data can help us to get there.