Hanging my Shingle

I’ve decided (since I have no lawyers to tell me exactly how bad an idea it is) not to start this blog off with an unattributed picture of Lucy Van Pelt, hanging out in her cardboard psychiatric “office”…but the doctor is in.  And has the same psychiatric credibility.

This is not a blog about your actual life problems.  I can’t help you there.

But when it comes to development – the business of fundraising – that’s what I’m here for.  I’ve been a professional fundraiser in one capacity or another for over 13 years, doing everything.   Individual giving (multimillion dollar solicitations on down to small gifts); mass appeals (direct mail, email, mobile giving); events; directing volunteer campaigns; grantwriting; corporate giving; crowd funding; earned income ventures…I’ve seen most of it.

For the past three years I’ve operated my own business, split between strategy consulting for nonprofits and leadership development/coaching.  (Want to hire me?  Great! www.viliandvesolutions.com)  I’ve learned a lot about the common problems of nonprofits and their leaders:

  1. Fundraising is almost always a concern.  Sometimes it’s all consuming, sometimes it’s a crisis, sometimes it holds an organization back, and sometimes it’s fine but a source of great stress for the board and management.
  2. Most people hate fundraising.  If people don’t hate fundraising, they are almost guaranteed to have other hangups about development work.  Fear? Discomfort? The certainty that they don’t know what they’re doing and are going to mess things up and terrible, horrible things will happen?  Maybe they rely too much on their personal charisma to close gifts, or retreat entirely behind their organization’s mission and needs until they’re so personally invisible that they can’t form a relationship.  There’s a lot that can interfere with fundraising that all comes down to the people trying to fundraise.
I’ve had the pleasure of coaching a number of amazing leaders and organizations to greater development success – and I measure that both in dollars/donors raised AND in the perceived pain it took to get there.
I’m hoping to share some of my insights and suggestions with a greater audience here.  Please send me your feedback, add comments for other readers, and if you’ve got questions you think a development shrink could help with, please email me, with the understanding that I’ll hope to answer them, advice columnist style, in a later post – so do not send me any sensitive information.  Nothing confidential and nothing that you rather not see repeated on the blog.
I’m sure this blog will evolve, but I look forward to starting this journey today!

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