Fundraising Performance vs. Fundraiser Performance—Part 2

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This is Part 2. Without reading Part 1, this column won’t be of much use to you.

Here’s where we left off:

  • Measuring fundraising results is different than measuring the fundraiser’s performance. And it’s a distinction that makes a very big difference!
  • Fundraising performance belongs to the entire institution. Neither the fundraiser nor the development office is solely accountable for the institution’s fundraising performance.

As you read in Part 1, lots of things affect the institution’s fundraising performance and results. For example:

  • Quality of program/service/product.
  • Engagement of CEO, board, and board members in the process of relationship building and soliciting.
  • Policies related to board member performance.
  • Screening process for board member candidates.
  • Operating as a donor-centered organization.

And so much more.

I actually think that measuring the institution’s fundraising performance is easier to do than measure the fundraiser’s performance. I think that defining measures, establishing annual benchmarks, and reviewing progress and results is a major conversation that staff, development committee, and the board should have – regularly.

Here are some of my favorite quotations about measures and data. I’ve been collecting quotations since I was in high school. Quotes from novels and songs and…and quotes from business books, and still more novels!

How about using these quotes to inspire your organization to probe about the purpose of measures and which measures and the analysis of trends and their implications?

  • “Data itself is nothing unless one uses it as a resource from which to draw conclusions.”—Dune: The Machine Crusade, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
  • “A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time…In business, money is both an input (a resource for achieving greatness) and an output (a measure of greatness). In the social sectors, money is only an input, and not a measure of greatness.”—Good to Great and Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Jim Collins.
  • “In a metric-minded organization, it’s very tempting to focus on things that are easy to measure instead of those things that are important to measure…Numbers-based innovations are easy to sell…but numbers-based innovations are rarely home runs. They rarely cause people to look back in awe at the amazing thing they’ve done. It’s the emotional stuff – the stuff that some smart people don’t think will work – that you need to be part of.”—The Big Moo, by the Group of 33, edited by Seth Godin.

For more details about measuring fundraising performance, see my previous NPQ columns about measures: here and here. There’s an entire list of measures available in the Free Download Library on my website. And, my book Keep Your Donors: The Guide to Better Communications and Stronger Relationships also devotes a couple chapters to measure.

The role of the fundraiser: Some general tips

Let’s explore the role of the fundraiser—and how to measure her or his performance.

First, start with the job description. Check out the example in the Free Download Library on my website. Pay particular attention to the qualifications.

Other tips:

The role of the consummate professional—no matter the job or industry

Stop counting the money!

A human resources person once told me, “We hire for skills and promote for competencies.” Check out Wikipedia to better understand the important distinctions between skills and competencies.

Being a great fundraiser includes lots more than the fundraising-specific stuff. This is about being a good performer—a leader—in any business.

So here are a few of the competencies I expect in any top performer anywhere for anything in any business…

Attitudes and behaviors

  • Challenges the status quo. Risk taker. Change agent.
  • Welcomes pluralism and promotes diversity of all kinds.
  • Recognizes that privilege (particularly the unearned kind) and the resulting power help cause injustice.
  • Lives as a global citizen. Interested and engaged in the world, life, communities, people.
  • Studies and applies ethical, shared leadership. Develops other leaders.
  • Behaves in concert with Jen Shang’s U.S. research about descriptors for good people: Kind. Caring. Compassionate. Helpful. Friendly. Fair. Hard-working. Generous. Honest.
  • Lifelong learner. Curious. Avid reader within and outside of one’s specific profession.
  • Possesses emotional, social, and cultural intelligence.
  • Paraphrasing Philip Glass: You have to learn the technique so you can go against it or approach the issue differently than the particular technique.
  • Serves as an organizational development specialist not just a technician/tactician.
  • Helps build the institution’s adaptive capacity: External focus. Network connectedness. Inquisitiveness. Innovation.
  • Embraces systems thinking and learning organization business theories.
  • Critical and strategic thinker.
  • Operate as Jim Collins’ Level 5 Leader.

Now, what about fundraisers? What makes a great fundraiser?

First, read “The Great Fundraising Report.” Then read CompassPoint’s “UnderDeveloped” report.”

Now consider these thoughts from me:

  1. Recognize philanthropy as an end in itself, not merely a means to an end, e.g., the organization’s mission.
  2. Be a philanthropist, giving time and money to charitable organizations. And this includes serving on a board. Otherwise, how can you adequate understand the NGO sector?
  3. Know the body of knowledge in fundraising!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. Embrace loyalty as the Holy Grail of fundraising. (So says
  5. Lead the creation of a donor-centered organization and a culture of philanthropy.
  6. Serve as the expert resource (leader) of fundraising, guiding the CEO, the board and its members, and everyone else.
  7. Operate as a donor-centered relationship builder.
  8. Know that emotions trigger all human decisions.
  9. Know that fundraising is not about money. Instead, it’s about people giving through your organization to fulfill their own aspirations and values.
  10. Passionate storyteller.
  11. Create extraordinary experiences for donors and prospects.

Well, okay. That’s just what a fundraiser should know and be and do.

But I haven’t yet talked about how to measure that individual’s performance.

However, that will have to wait for Part 3. Because this column is long enough (maybe even too long!)