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The First Rule of Leadership

If you want to be a leader, you must act like one. And if you want to be a professional, you must act like one. But if you want to be a professional at a not-for-profit, or if you want to be a volunteer leader at your favorite charity, then there is one hard and fast rule. Respect your partner.

Every professional needs a volunteer partner and every effective volunteer needs a professional partner. That’s how you will accomplish the most. Funny how charitable life imitates the real thing.

As a volunteer you are expected to give, to get, and to lead in both if you are able and willing. The best way to lead as a volunteer or a professional is to start by making a quality gift. A quality gift is not about the dollar amount. It is about the dollar amount of your gift relative to your ability to give. 

Those earning a not-for-profit salary are not expected to give as much as those who run their own businesses. So what qualifies as a quality gift? The Torah, or Bible, says its 10% of your income or 1% of your wealth. Most people think that is a pretty hefty total, let alone for a single gift. They are right. It is hefty, and it is meant to be a guide for total giving based on your net income. If you want to be a leader in an organization, then a substantial part of your giving should be to that charity. 

Next step is getting. As a leader you must be willing to solicit others. Once you have made your won quality gift, this is much easier.  When I was the development director, earning just about 6 figures, I had no trouble soliciting our major donors for six figure gifts. That’s right, I asked major donors for gifts to our annual campaign that were more than my annual salary. I had no problem doing it and I had much credibility given the size of my gift relative to my income and wealth.  Based on the guidelines above, my gift was of a higher quality. Based upon my income and wealth, I was making the greater sacrifice in my giving. That’s credibility.

But I digress. This post was supposed to be about leadership and partnership. But you can /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,flyer/date,2119-11-01/”>inexpensive cialis not have leadership in a charitable organization without giving and getting, so I needed to touch on those first. They are the gateways to leadership,  and if you don’t pass through them you will end up on the wrong road.

Getting is all about partnership. The professional, in partnership with the volunteers lays out the plans for the campaign. The volunteer leadership and board endorse the plan and in so doing commit to implement it. Thus, when the Board of Directors of one of my clients passed a resolution to endorse our major gifts fundraising plan to raise $500,000 in our first year, they committed to the plan. In so doing, they passed on all the other ways to raise money.

They could have voted to hold an annual dinner honoring someone wealthy or famous. They could have voted to implement a direct mail campaign, or they could have endorsed a plan to hold a charity auction. They didn’t. They endorsed the plan to raise funds from 100 donors using a classic fundraising gift pyramid, or gift table.

And so the only thing left to do for the volunteers is to network, to help identify 300 potential donors, that’s 3 per spot on the gift pyramid. The volunteers need to make calls and to engage their friends, colleagues, and associates. They need to bring in their professional partner when they need help with a solicitation or when they can not be the one to ask. But ultimately, the volunteer needs to pick up the phone and make some calls. And the most important call is the one at the end updating the professional partner on what you accomplished.

The professional leader, for his part (excuse the male pronoun here. It happens to fit me, so I will use it, but many of the best professionals in the field are women) must gently and tactfully stay in touch with his volunteers to ensure they are doing what they committed to do. All the while, the professional must remember that the volunteer is just that, a volunteer. She can walk away at any moment when she is not feeling appreciated or if she feels the cause is not worthwhile or for no particular reason at all.

And that is the heart of the partnership. A professional and a volunteer working hand in hand to raise the other up and to ensure each works at a level above what they could accomplish alone. Another great example of work imitating life. 

One Comment

  1. devi iriawan wrote:

    this post very inspirational for me. thanks 🙂

    starting an internet business

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 2:21 am | Permalink