"You've got to help us out," they said, "we really need you!" And so, with the ink still wet on my incorporation documents, I agreed to conduct my very first fundraising retreat for the board of The Commodores, not their real name. I even drafted my friend Rebecca, with her PhD in organizational psychology, to share the project with me! We expected to enlighten these folks, dazzle them with our brilliance, and then give them fundraising strategies that would reinvigorate them and give them a brilliant future.
Quick, boys and girls!! What's the least understood function in the nonprofit world? One, two, three - it's fundraising! Dan Pallotta calls it "the black sheep of the fundraising sector." Nonprofits brag about how little they spend on it. Executive directors complain about it (or at least their lack of results). And boards of directors make demands and expect miracles from the fundraising department, always with the best of intentions, but not necessarily with awareness of costs or other constraints.