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June 12, 2024

NAACP Field Secretary and civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, was assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963.

FUNdraising Good Times

POSTED: March 25, 2016, 7:30 am

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“We wear a lot of hats around here.” This is a common refrain at many small and medium-sized nonprofits. It’s even true amongst larger nonprofits that are under-resourced.

Sometimes it’s said with pride. Other times it is followed by a sigh that signals fatigue. We understand both sentiments. If you are one who “wears many hats” we salute your ability to multi-task, pursue multiple priorities, and keep your eye on the big picture and the details simultaneously. We recognize your agility and flexibility. You do what must be done, often without recognition.

We also recognize that sometimes you struggle with too many responsibilities. “Many hats” can become “too many hats.” Things fall through the cracks, you feel overworked, you want to be successful in all your endeavors and yet you begin to feel resentful. It gets worse when people criticize.

Here’s what we know: it is rare for a nonprofit professional to specialize or to work only in her area of responsibility. If you read the fine print, most job descriptions include the phrase “and other responsibilities as assigned.” Small and medium sized nonprofits often lack the resources to support specialized staff. For example, many have a development/marketing manager. That’s one person responsible for two priority areas. One person managing special events, creating and sending out direct mail, managing social media, writing grants, hosting small friendraisers, meeting one-on-one with donors, supporting board members, managing the data based, producing reports, sending out thank you letters... You get the idea.

Dealing with this reality requires many hats, and many hands. Here are a few suggestions for building a healthy fundraising team.

First, cross training is a must. Your organization cannot rely on any one person to fulfill all fundraising related activities. All members of your staff should have some skills that can enhance your development and fundraising activities, beyond their primary responsibilities. In some cases you will have to rely on people from the outside to supplement the skill sets that you need. Before asking for help, know your needs. Your fundraising plan should reveal the types of people and skills you need, whether from staff or volunteers.

Second, remember that wearing many hats is not a bad thing, especially during times of staff transition in the area of fundraising. If your team has been contributing to the development and fundraising work of the organization, there may be someone who can fill in while you search for your new development person.

Third, as a CEO or board member you should constantly seek out professional development opportunities for your staff and volunteers. These can include workshops and conferences, webinars, coaching, books, periodicals and blogs. Related to this, you, and members of the board (especially the chair of the development committee), should have a general knowledge of fund development in order to effectively manage the fundraising function.

Copyright 2016– Mel and Pearl Shaw

For help growing your fundraising visit or call (901) 522-8727(901) 522-8727.

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