Here’s how a former CEO (for about a decade) of one of a well-known, well-respected U.S. charity started his story about his time there:
“It was a federated structure, so as CEO I raised only 20% of the money. So of course I had no power and no authority. Sure, I had it on paper, but really I had nothing.”
So here’s the chasm we have to cross in our sector: the good CEOs obviously get it, they understand that who you take money from is who you are; and they understand the inextricable link between what funds come in (and who brings them in) and power, strategy, and decision-making within the organization.
Yet at the same time there’s general agreement that nonprofit fundraising is still mostly broken, that fundraising jobs are career dead-ends, that fundraising is “overhead” (read: waste, something to be minimized).
Here’s a thought: let’s borrow a page from the corporate playbook. Let’s take our best, highest-potential up-and-comers and put them through multi-year leadership rotations through ALL major functions in the organization (and no, it doesn’t count if they do 7 program rotations, one for each of your program areas, and then 1 “back office” rotation to cover HR, marketing, and fundraising). That way no one gets to the top without having been on the front lines.
Oh, we also need a little more rabble-rousing.