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Nonprofit Executive Directors Should Join the Fundraising Adventure

Nonprofit Executive Directors Should Join the Fundraising Adventure

By Rhen Hoehn, Director of Marketing


Running a nonprofit is like steering a ship through uncharted waters. As the executive director, you’re the captain, guiding the crew. Amid the waves of daily tasks, one crucial element stands out: fundraising. 


You might be tempted to delegate fundraising entirely to your capable fundraising staff - they’re the experts on the topic, right?


That said, there is magic when you, the executive director, dive into the fundraising waters alongside them. Let’s explore why your presence in fundraising is essential.


The Power of Personal Connection

Fundraising isn’t just about dollars and cents; it’s about building relationships. 


When you, as the executive director, join your fundraising team on donor visits, you bring a personal touch that is irreplaceable. 


Donors want to feel connected to the heart of the organization. You are the embodiment of the mission, the passion, and the vision. Your stories, your enthusiasm, and your genuine gratitude can turn a potential donation into a lasting partnership.


Imagine this: you’re sitting in a cozy coffee shop, sipping lattes with a potential donor. Your fundraiser is eloquently presenting your latest project, and then you chime in with a heartfelt anecdote about a life that was changed by your organization. The donor leans in, captivated. 


That is the power of personal connection. It’s like adding a cherry on top of an already delightful sundae.


Beyond this, it is also a matter of trust. Put yourself in the donor’s shoes. Would you make a six- or seven-figure gift to an organization if you didn’t personally know the staff and have a level of trust that such a substantial gift would be used wisely?


Leading by Example

Being an executive director means setting the tone for your organization. By actively participating in fundraising, you are showing your team that every aspect of the nonprofit’s work is important to you. It’s not just about sitting in an office making big decisions; it’s about rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in the nitty-gritty.


When your team sees you making time for donor visits, despite your packed schedule, it sends a powerful message: fundraising matters. It encourages a culture where everyone is invested in the organization’s success. Plus, your presence can boost your fundraising team’s morale. They’ll appreciate your support and feel more confident in their efforts.


Insights from the Front Lines

Stepping into the world of fundraising can give you invaluable insights. You’ll hear firsthand what resonates with donors and what doesn’t. This feedback loop is crucial. You can refine your messaging, adjust your strategies, and better understand the landscape in which your organization operates. It’s like getting a secret map that helps you navigate the fundraising seas more effectively.


Moreover, these insights aren’t just beneficial for fundraising. They can inform your overall strategy, program development, and community engagement efforts. It’s a holistic approach that ensures your organization stays aligned with its mission and the needs of its supporters.


A Team-Building Opportunity

Let’s not forget the fun factor! Accompanying your fundraising staff on donor visits can be an excellent team-building experience. You’ll get to know each other better, share a few laughs, and celebrate successes together. It’s like embarking on a mini-adventure, each donor visit a new chapter in your nonprofit’s story.


Picture this: you and your fundraiser walking out of a successful donor meeting, high-fiving each other, and maybe even doing a little victory dance. These moments create bonds and memories that strengthen your team’s cohesion and camaraderie.


Making an Impression 

Your title holds weight. When donors see that the executive director has taken the time to meet them, it underscores their importance. It shows that you value their contribution and see them as partners in your mission. This can leave a lasting impression, making donors more likely to continue their support and even increase their involvement.


Balancing the Load

Yes, you’re busy. Yes, your to-do list is endless. But, integrating fundraising into your role doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You don’t need to attend every meeting or know every detail. Select key donor visits to join. Your presence on these occasions will amplify the efforts of your fundraising team without stretching you too thin.


Embrace the Fundraising Journey

As an executive director, your involvement in fundraising is not just beneficial; it’s essential. By joining your fundraising staff on donor visits, you bring personal connection, lead by example, gain crucial insights, strengthen your team, and make a lasting impression on donors. Plus, let’s face it, it can be a lot of fun!


So, don your captain’s hat, grab that fundraising map, and set sail on this adventure. Your nonprofit’s future is bright, and with you at the helm, there’s no limit to what you can achieve together. Happy fundraising!



One struggle that many nonprofit directors face is knowing what metrics to set for their development staff. We have put together a sample development incentive plan worksheet that you can use as a guide to set metrics for your staff. Access it for free by clicking here



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