Working with Leadership
Most development directors will say that without the support of the institution’s leadership, development and fundraising at the institution will not thrive. Most leaders are committed to supporting their development directors, but maintaining that critical level of commitment and interest over time can be challenging.
A development director needs to invest as much in the relationship with his or her institutional leader as in the relationship with the institution’s best donor. Regularly updating and engaging institutional leadership will enable those leaders to be stronger champions for your efforts.
This support can be achieved in a number of ways:
Deliver frequent, appropriate and timely communications. The leaders of institutions are extremely busy and need information to be given to them in ways that are easily accessible and timely (e.g., an executive summary with thoughtful notes rather than a lengthy report to read).
Put formal reporting and monitoring mechanisms in place. Establish what report your leader would like and when (e.g., a quarterly financial report for the quarterly finance review or a biweekly one-page summary of department activities, progress and action items). Confirm what is appropriate, and stick to the agreement.
Make your expectations clear and establish boundaries. It can be daunting for a new development director to demand time from an institution’s leader, but it must be done. Development directors have a responsibility to give leaders a clear indication of the time they need to set aside and to make sure that this time is used wisely.
Make it easy for your institution’s leader to be involved in the fundraising process, but remember that they may be new to this process and require your support whilst they build their own experience.
Identify appropriate training for your leadership team and encourage them to network with leaders of comparable institutions to understand and share best practices.
Do not keep serious issues from your leadership team. Share significant challenges with them and engage them in finding solutions before issues escalate and become a threat to the institution.
Respect one another’s expertise and skills.
Celebrate and recognise successes often!
The podcast featured Amil Mohanan (Loughborough University, UK), Eric Saulo (Director of Advancement and External Relations, Strathmore University, Kenya), Debo Adeosun (Director of Advancement at University of Ibadan, Nigeria) and Ronica Ramsout (Head of Research and Information Systems, University of Cape Town, ZA).