Help Your CEO Become a Successful Fundraiser

Posted by admin on Aug 10, 2018 7:51:13 AM

Savvy fundraising professionals realize that for their organization to be successful in garnering funds, leadership must come from the top. It is also true that financial development is but one facet of a CEO’s overall performance profile. A beginning point in helping the CEO become a successful fundraiser is to understand what priority the board of directors places on fundraising in its evaluation of CEO performance.

In most nonprofits, financial development objectives will appear as one of the top three to five performance standards for the chief executive. In well-managed organizations, performance standards will be linked to a strategic plan. There may be specific, measurable criteria related to special events, annual support and endowment development. The importance of fundraising takes on additional meaning when an organization is involved in capital development. In these instances the CEO may be seen as the lead major-gift fundraiser in the organization.

How is it then that other professionals in the organization assist the CEO in being successful in financial development? Here are some suggestions:

  • Understand the CEO’s performance profile.
    Ask the CEO to review the performance guidelines. If he/she is unwilling to share the document, perhaps you can obtain from them a list of the job segments and key deliverables stipulated by the board of directors. Most likely, items such as strategic planning, promoting the vision and mission of the organization, financial management, leading a high performing staff team, and volunteer development will be board priorities for the CEO.Knowing where financial development weighs in among those objectives will inform professionals as to how much attention it will get from the CEO. (As a CEO, I always shared my performance standards with staff because so often all of our position profiles were interrelated.)
  • Recognize the interrelationship of organizational development components.
    A high performing organization attends to a variety of key factors. Successful financial development is tied to the capability and willingness of the board to give and to actively solicit contributions. Therefore, board development is critical.An effective CEO will gather a staff of professionals to assist and motivate volunteers and to promote the charitable mission of the organization. Staff development is tied to organizational success. Ultimately, support for a nonprofit derives from its adherence to its mission and its ability to offer meaningful programs and results. Program and mission development are fundamental. CEOs, board members, and staff all have an obligation to balance these aspects of organizational development.
  • Participate in creating a culture of philanthropy. 
    Everyone in the organization should be aware of the benefits of being classified as a legal charity. Managing the mission requires careful stewardship and the use of charitable status to maximum advantage. Financial development is more than raising funds. It is also stretching operating budgets by offering vendors the opportunity to provide goods and services.A smart maintenance director asks for a contribution of supplies for a special project from a regular vendor. Program staff find sponsors for activities, equipment or supplies. Marketing staff seek partners for cause-marketing endeavors. Board members understand their responsibility for annual support and special events. The CEO leads by example by soliciting government funding sources, foundations, and individuals and recruiting others to do the same. Everyone participates in raising funds and stretching resources.

Competition for contributed support is as fierce as ever with natural disasters siphoning money from the giving pubic that might, otherwise, have gone to traditional charities. Donors rightfully demand results from their charitable investments. Fundraising professionals can absolutely assist their CEOs in financial development by understanding the CEO’s performance profile, by having an awareness of the interdependence of organizational development components, and by participating in the creation of a culture of philanthropy.


Custom Development Solutions, Inc. (CDS) is one of the most sought after fundraising consulting firms specializing in the strategic planning and tactical execution of capital campaigns for non-profits throughout the United States and Canada.  If you have a fundraising question, please call CDS at 800-761-3833 or send an email to

Topics: Campaign Feasibility and Planning Studies, Board Development, Capital Campaigns, Fundraising Principles, leadership skills, organizational development, Professional Skill Building, professional skill building, strategic planning

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