Development Staff: How Many? & Events in Homes

Sections of this topic

    1. How Many Development Staffers Do We Need to Attain Our Fundraising Goals?
    by Tony Poderis

    I’ve often been asked about a formula/guideline for determining the number of development staff needed relative to an organization’s fundraising goals?

    I always reply, strongly, that “there’s no such animal.” There simply cannot be such a formula developed that has any relation to reality. No way!

    From the following common nonprofit activities and circumstances, you can see why there is no way to come up with a formula to know exactly, before fundraising goals are set, or when they are presented to the chief development officer, how many development staff s/he should have to meet those goals.

    • The basic wide range of operating budgets, from the (few) thousands to the multimillions.

    • Whether, in some organizations, there are earned income revenues helping to meet expenses (i.e., universities and hospitals), versus those nonprofits having to raise of 100% of their expenses (abuse shelters, food-banks, etc.).

    • Startup costs for new and emerging organizations.

    • Initial “investment” costs for new major campaigns, such as for capital, endowment, sponsorships and underwriting.

    • The types of fundraising mechanisms – i.e., face-to-face, tele-funding, direct mail, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    • How much, how little, or not at all, the Members of the Board of Trustees directly assist and participate in the development activities. (This can make a huge difference.)

    • The quality, skills, experience, and capability of any given development staff person are major factors. (This is perhaps, the biggest variable influencing the number of staff needed in a given organization.)

    • Whether the “development” person is required to perform other activities within the organization – i.e., marketing, PR, communications, etc.

    • The degree of coordination required and desired with fundraising volunteers, and the number of them needed to effectively/fully implement the various campaigns and special events.

    And there are, no doubt, even more reasons why you will not find such a formula – or if you do, why you should ignore it.

    The number of professionals, and their roles in the development process has everything to do with the funding needs, priorities, available resources, and the capability of the staffers – determined on a case-by-case basis.

    Have a question or comment about the above posting?
    You can Ask Tony.
    There is also a lot of good fundraising information on his website:
    Have you seen
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks ??

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $3.99)

    2. Events In Private Homes: Part I
    Education? Cultivation? Solicitation? Stewardship?
    by Hank Lewis

    An Executive Director, indicating that she doesn’t “have time or resources to expend on a feel-good [event], and very little time for organizing yet another event” of any kind, wrote that, “A donor has offered his home for a private event … [but that she (the ED) has] always shied away from these b/c no one can agree what the purpose/format should be….”

    To begin my response, I’d observe that (as in the title of this piece) there are four basic purposes for such an activity … singly or in combination; and, the first issue for consideration should be the determination that there is a need for a specific type of event, with a specific purpose/goal/objective.

    Assuming that such a need exists, that the homeowner is someone whose stature/renown could motivate individuals to want to attend, and/or that the home being offered is one that would do the same, the next question to be resolved relates to who would be the appropriate individuals to be invited to an event at that person’s home.

    Will the invitees be known to the host? How well? Have they been to the host’s home previously? Why? How often? Are they aware of the host’s relationship with the nonprofit?

    What will be the role of the host? Will it be limited to, “Welcome to my home,” will he be the center of the meeting, the presenter and the question answerer, or will it be somewhere in-between ??

    Is the event going to be a “fund-raiser” with little substance? Will the attendees leave without having learned a lot about the nonprofit, or will they leave wanting to know more?

    If the thought is that the host would ask attendees to “give,” it must be understood that people who are solicited in a group setting are not being (cannot be) asked for a major gift, they can only (all) be asked to give at a specific level … a level that’s likely to be significantly lower than what they’d actually be capable of giving.

    [A major gift, by definition, is one that can only be solicited one-on-
    one (face-to-face) by the person(s) who has/have been significantly
    involved with the cultivation of the (potential) donor.
    (“Events In Private Homes” continues
    in the April 23rd & April 30th postings.)

    Have a comment or a question about starting,
    evaluating or expanding your fundraising program?

    Have you heard about
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks.

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99-$4.99)

    If you would like to comment/expand on either-or-both of the above pieces, or would just like to offer your thoughts on the subjects of this posting, we encourage you to “Leave a Reply.”