Fundraising--It's Not the Other Guy's Job

A lot of nonprofits I’ve worked with over the years are sending me job descriptions for directors of development.  For some, these are new positions; for others they are additions to.  They are asking for feedback on the things they will be expecting and they are hoping I know someone terrific to fill the bill. Would that I did.  Not that there aren’t terrific development directors—there just aren’t enough to go around.  And, more to the point, there are few who could fill the bill for what these organizations really want.

How many times have I heard, “We have a development director, but he/she doesn’t do her job.”  Probably as many times as I hear that the Board isn’t doing theirs.  Both those jobs?  Why bringing in money, of course.

And yes, there is great truth that both have responsibility for fundraising.  But so does everyone involved with the organization.  That's known as having a culture of philanthropy.

Too often, there is a sense that someone else—the development director, a Board member (another Board member)—is responsible.  THEY will raise the funds.  And when that doesn’t occur or doesn’t occur as far as we want, they are at fault.

Pogo, a character in a long ago comic strip, famously said that “we have met the enemy and it is us.”  That is certainly true if every single person at your organization is not actively involved in raising funds.

That doesn’t necessarily mean, as too many think it does, that everyone must be asking for charitable gifts.  It does mean that everyone must be involved in the many steps of fundraising from helping to find prospects to making those prospects feel that they are a part of the organization to helping those prospects become donors to ensuring that those donors feel that their gift is valued and of value.

The more that everyone in your organization is involved in raising funds, the more funds you will raise.  It  really is that simple.


Janet Levine helps nonprofits increase their fundraising capacity.  A key is making sure that everyone is involved and invested.  Learn more at  While there, sign up for her free monthly newsletter