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Chapter Leadership Brief: The Heart of Philanthropy

Chapter Leadership Brief: The Heart of Philanthropy

By Craig Shelley, CFRE, Chapter Treasurer & Managing Director, Orr Group

I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraising as a profession of late.  I just renewed my CFRE credential (I’ve written about this before but I’m happy to discuss the process with people and encourage fundraisers to pursue this distinction), which I initially pursued as a commitment and recognition of the profession.  But I’ve also of late been thinking about the difference of volunteer driven vs professional driven fundraising efforts and where the line of distinction is drawn.

On the one hand you have entirely grassroots driven fundraising, like the parent association fundraiser my wife recently got involved in.  These efforts are driven by shoe leather, grit and enthusiasm.  While the group was quick to ask for my advice, I’m not certain the types of fundraising strategies I espouse, and implement are effective for their purposes.  There’s no need for a theory of change and we won’t need a pitch deck or network mapping to billionaire philanthropists interested in our cause area.

The opposite is the highly professionalized fundraising operations I tend to work with.  Experienced fundraisers are working through deliberate cultivation and stewardship plans.  Large gifts are being solicited.

Those two ends of the spectrum sound very different but as I’ve reflected, they really aren’t.  In both instances, particularly if you’re going to be successful in the professionalized model, you are still relying on volunteers (board members and others) to make introductions, open doors and to set the tone and giving expectations.

The nonprofit sector and philanthropy generally take many shapes and approaches with a myriad intended outcome.  But at its heart, all efforts rely on the generosity of both time and money from well intentioned, kind and optimistic people.

I’m not sure what that all means but it’s been a topic I’ve been musing on and thought I’d share.  I hope to see you soon at one of our chapter events.  They are informative and truly a nexus of well intentioned, kind and optimistic people.

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