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Association Fundraising for Success: Embrace the Big Picture [Part 1]

 

It’s a delight to contribute several guest blog posts here on fundraising tips & tricks for associations, especially the many small organizations who face a myriad of support and resource challenges.

Today’s initial thoughts start at a high level, because as important as tactics and execution can be (future topics), I believe the most important factor in your success is effectively crafting, clarifying, and communicating your association’s strategic vision so that it translates to an optimal development road map.   You may not realize this is also a part of the development team’s collective job description (whatever your role), but it is absolutely key!  Everything starts (and ends) here.   It’s an iterative process, with your leveraging thought leadership at the top of the organization– as well as informing strategy from the bottom-up—based on the true realities of your market position.

It sounds pretty basic, right?  Well, maybe.  We’ve certainly heard some of these themes before, maybe even preached them ourselves.  But, finding the way to translate this philosophy into an integral part of your entire organization’s fundraising ethos and support system that is clearly understood, embraced—and then articulated– by all on your team can often be your biggest challenge.

And your team includes the entire “community” that makes up your organization and a host of stakeholders, often with their own interests in programs, resource needs, and so on—within and outside your association.  Many associations remain fundamentally built on a membership model, which inherently carries some level of say and ownership in how it does things.  The trick is to leverage this as a strength that helps you optimize development results to achieve ONE strategic vision that, hopefully, many constituencies have had a say in crafting.

Every organization should engage in a commitment to “disciplined development” that is first and foremost driven by its board and senior leadership.  This ensures engagement and financial goals are focused with laser clarity on:

  1. Strategic Mission.
  2. Organizational Priorities (what they are and equally what they are not).
  3. Fully aligned tactical fundraising execution road map based on concrete market assessment data.

Tune in next week to see Part 2 of this article on Association Fundraising for Success: Embrace the Big Picture and learn the important questions you need to start asking. 

Questions? Leave a comment below!

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Cathy Josman

Cathy Josman is Director of Strategic Initiatives & Special Projects for External Relations at Stanford Law School. Higher education and community engagement are among her many passions. Her background includes 25 years of experience in strategic planning, advancement, and marketing communications across the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors. Cathy joined Stanford after serving as Director of Membership for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) in Washington, D.C., an association of almost 40,000 members, including board trustees, presidents, and other cabinet level higher education administrators. Prior to AGB, she spent six years at Harvard University, most recently serving as Harvard Business School's (HBS) Director of Alumni Clubs and Associations worldwide. In this role, she oversaw all activities related to a network of 100+ alumni organizations supporting 80,000 alumni, as well as the global growth of a highly successful HBS Alumni New Venture Contest. She holds a M.Ed.degree in Higher Education Management from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a B.A. degree in Government from Harvard College.

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