If you’ve watched Mad Men at all, you’ve heard variations of this line thrown around at least a few times. Likewise, if you’ve been in nonprofits for very long, you’ve heard our sector’s variation, “Everyone’s a fundraiser”. These phrases are used so often, that it seems like there is an assumption that everyone knows what they mean, but in both cases, it’s clear that everyone could use a bit of explanation.
It doesn’t mean that everyone should be out making asks or maintaining important relationships, at least not without guidance from your office’s actual fundraising/account staff. It means that nonprofit organizations, like small advertising firms, work as a team, and the staff members are chosen to support each other. A key way for staff to support those in fundraising/account roles is to remember the “See Something, Say Something” posters that have popped up around our lives in the post-9/11 world. The authorities know that they need the public’s eyes to catch all threats, so they make everyone know their new role.
Much like Harry Crane made a huge blunder by not passing along information from their Lucky Strike contact to the accounts staff, many nonprofits have dropped balls when information was not passed from non-fundraising staff into that department. There are many times where non-fundraising staff may learn valuable information that can be key to your organization. Maybe the receptionist knows that a donor has been calling repeatedly, but not leaving messages when transferred. Maybe your program coordinator heard about a new grant in a social setting with their other nonprofit friends. As much as it may seem obvious for these staff members to tell the development director about these news, not all nonprofits are set up well in that regard. Has your fundraising team made requests for information clear to other departments, or at least maintained an “open door”? For every nonprofit with fundraising staff who would thank these staff members for the tip, others would tell them to mind their own business. Does your nonprofit have a culture of sharing in place?