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Advice for a new Fundraising Director

Advice to a newly-minted Fundraising Director

Philp R B&W


Philip Roethenbaugh, a skilled fundraiser and our expert/go-to Associate Consultant for fundraising services shares his considerable knowledge with fundraisers via a series of blogs. 



Becoming the Fundraising Director of a national charity was a goal I set myself quite early in my career.

Once I attained this ‘lofty’ position, whilst my fundraising skills were well honed, the learning curve suddenly steepened. As the manager of a large department and a key member of the wider leadership team, new skills had to be learnt quickly and some old habits broken.

Whilst I suspect some things in life have to be learned through personal experiences (the hard way) there is room to benefit from the experience and mistakes of others.

My top 10 tips for new Directors of Fundraising


 1. Fully embrace your place at the ‘top table’ 

Don’t let misdirected humility and self-deprecation undermine your position of leadership. That’s no good for anyone. You’ve earned this, so don’t be intimidated. Your new peers may have more years experience, but never see yourself or operate as a ‘junior director’. Look into ‘imposter syndrome’ if this tip resonates. Fully play the role you’ve been given. Remember, you are always being watched! Your conduct and standards of behaviour can have enormous effects (positive or negative) on your team and the credibility of the organisation.

2. Consistently sell a vision for your department

Leave no-one on your team in doubt as to what standards are expected, both personal and professional. Deal with transgressions swiftly and consistently. Use a number of methods and situations to explain what success looks like. Be prepared to repeat yourself – often.

3. Really know you numbers (financials, fundraising targets, historical data etc)

There is often a lot of this to remember, so keep a summary with you at all times. Refer to it frequently, until the numbers are imprinted on your mind. Easy recall will enhance your authority within your team and across your peer group.

4. Trust your team of experts

You don’t have to be the guru of every fundraising technique. Hire the very best people you can afford, trust them to get on with their work, but remember you are entitled to question them and expect evidence for the conclusions they come to. Delegate the tasks, but never delegate responsibility for the outcome.

5. Manage upwards effectively

For starters, do follow the old adage of “under-promise and over-deliver”. But more than this, really get to the bottom of what your CEO deems is most important, beyond the obvious of hitting income targets. You need to influence the rules of the game. What could be (objectively speaking) a great year for your department, will not be seen as such if there is a mismatch between goals agreed at the star of the year and those achieved. Don’t allow yourself to be set up for failure by goals or targets that are not realistic and not suitably resourced.

6. Fight for investment in fundraising

Do your homework; build compelling evidence for your arguments. Repurpose those same powers of persuasion you use when inspiring donors to invest. Stand up against those that would starve fundraising, by a misplaced devotion to reducing all ‘overheads’ at all costs. See Dan Pallotta’s excellent TED talk on the subject for encouragement.

7. Use your political savvy

Understanding the political power dynamics within the trustee board is essential (See the last point). You can either be buffeted by them or harness them to achieve your goals and what is in the interests of the charity’s beneficiaries (mutually inclusive I would hope!). The key to this is getting to know each trustee personally to understand what motivates them. It may not be what you expect, or actually what they say it is. You’ll need to discern this yourself, partly based on their actions.

8. Be an internal ambassador for fundraising

Don’t expect other departments to appreciate or even understand what your team does. Get out there and share the good news of how fundraisers support them in achieving their aims. Demand equal professional respect between your team and those working directly with beneficiates. Each needs the other.

 9. Take action now for 2026

It is tempting to focus almost exclusively on this year’s needs. Be brave enough to lobby for the long view. What will the person in your chair in 10 years time be pleased you set in motion? A community fundraising programme, a robust legacy marketing cycle, a management training programme?

10. Get a mentor or coach

You may now be the most experienced fundraising practitioner within your charity. So if you haven’t done so already in your career, you’ll need to look outside to find the people to learn from, challenge you and enable you to reach higher.

11.  Relax and enjoy yourself!

I said 10 tips, but really there are 11 and this is important.  You’ve got one of the best jobs out there, one in which you can have an enormous impact on an important social issue, with people that share your passion.

 My recommendations for further reading:

• ‘How to Lead’ and ‘How to Manage’ two volumes by Jo Owen (pub. Prentice Hall). You’ll never look at management and leadership the same way again. Very practical, very clever, ideal for ongoing reference.

• ‘Four obsessions extraordinary executive’ by Patrick Lencioni (pub. John Wiley & Sons). I fully recommend working through Lencioni’s full works.

‘The Porcupine Principle’ by Jonathan Farnhill (pub. DCS) – Equally insightful and entertaining. Ideal to share with new recruits to fundraising.

Purple Vision and Fundraising

Purple Vision can help with fundraising requirements across the spectrum of technical, people-related and strategic.  Our services include:

We can help with full strategic reviews of your entire fundraising operation, or help you to focus on a key area you’re keen to develop.  We’ve been fundraising consultants since 2003, and our fundraising people are committed and passionate about supporting non profits to grow and achieve their full potential.

To find out more about fundraising services, call Keith Collins – Customer Solutions Director – via 0845 458 0250 or use our online contact form.

Building Journeys

I spoke at CHASE 2016 (#CHASE2016London if you want to check the twitter action) today, and included a template for starting to build journeys.

For those at the session it’s linked here so you can open it as a PDF.

Journey Toolkit -Build a Journey

More explanation to follow shortly for those of you that weren’t in the audience and are wondering what on earth I’m talking about!

Non Profit Starter Pack

What’s the NPSP – Non Profit Starter Pack?

It’s the basic out-of-the-box Salesforce package to help non-profits get to grips with fundraising via Salesforce CRM.

Why Upgrade?

NPSP 3 was released last year. NPSP 3 offers comprehensive updates that make managing a range of non-profit interactions more efficient, and adds new features, too.

Since then, some have upgraded, while others have held back. The reasons for not upgrading are as wide and varied as the non-profits using Salesforce.

  • Time is a big factor since hours in the day are limited, and I’ve yet to meet anyone in a non-profit who sits twiddling their thumbs wondering what to do next.
  • Fear is another. If you’ve spent hours getting your data in shape, and working out how the system works, even training and supporting others to use it too, there will naturally be a fear that an upgrade will change things and you’ll have to start again with the training (see Time).

I think we have to be honest, too ― the path of least resistance is also a well-trodden trail. If there’s no compelling reason to change something, or no immediacy, then it’s easy to ignore it or keep moving it down the list.

All these are, within organisational context, are fair enough. But we think the reasons for upgrading *are* compelling.

Our 3 key reasons why you should upgrade to NPSP 3:

  1. Not getting left behind. Other non-profits have already upgraded and are able to take advantage of the additional functionality. The extra features will help with your day to day tasks, and ultimately mean you will get smarter reporting and be able to make better decisions about your funding, relationships and direction of travel. Don’t get left behind when you could be enjoying additional benefits.
  2. Compatibility with other packages. The Non Profit Starter Pack is just that – a starter pack. As demand grows and more users are adopting it, more third-party developers and members of the community are building add-on packages that extend the Starter Pack. Many managed packages and apps for non-profits are built to be compatible with the NPSP code base, so it’s possible that packages you have or may want to have in the future may not work on anything but the latest version, or may not work optimally on an older version.
  3. Automatic updates. When you’re using NPSP 3, new updates will automatically appear every 2 weeks. Yes, 2 weeks. That’s how fast things can change and develop. These updates will be a mix of fixes and new features. If you’re not on NPSP 3, you’ll miss the automatic upgrades.

If you’re still not sure about upgrading, ask for help. There’s plenty of it around – via the free Power of Us Hub (you’ll need your Salesforce login) release notes and documentation (via the Hub Knowledge Base), as well as the Upgrade Webinar recording.

Alternatively, you can ask a Partner for support. While you will have to pay for this, it may be the fastest way for you to make the upgrade. Purple Vision is one such partner that you could ask.  We’ve got years of experience of supporting non profits to adopt Salesforce as the CRM of choice – both with the Non Profit Starter Pack and with other managed packages for fundraising, operational and service delivery and more.

What’s included in the Upgrade

There’s something in NPSP 3 for everyone, whether you’re a technical or functional user. Salesforce Administrators can enjoy some smart new features that will make life much easier, such as a Health Check that automatically checks data for inconsistencies and makes sure that settings are still valid.

But the biggest change for admins is the automatic upgrade – bug fixes and releases will just be auto-rolled directly to your Salesforce instance in the future.

Overall, the biggest changes are around architecture – and six packages of code have been consolidated into one single package, making future upgrades even easier. NPSP will also work more effectively with the Salesforce1 Mobile App.

The other updates are around Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities, with a range of new options available to you to configure as your organisation requires. The ability to set a primary contact for each a household is one example.

Make the move today

There’s a lot of extra support for making a move to NPSP 3 in February – (it’s NPSP Upgrade Month – I bet you didn’t have that on your calendar), and throughout the year. Extra support is a good thing and accessing it wherever you can is going to help. Make sure to sign up for ‘office hours’ (dial an expert) and visit the Power of Us Hub Upgrade Group for advice from others doing the upgrade, too.


Omni-channel marketing and the travel sector

If you’re only just getting the hang of multi-channel, hang on there, you’re in for a ride. If you’re still using Outlook to email your booking quotes, the next year or so could be a bit of a rollercoaster.

Omni-channel is the integration of all online and offline channels to create one to one personal experiences. Yes, it is actually truly possible to manage that. It’s not just hyperbole.

In the beginning ….

Most of us started with email – single channel. We’re probably pretty good at it by now – monitoring open rates, looking at subject lines, A/B testing to identify the content and subject lines to which our audience is most responsive.

The next big thing was Mobile. “Quick” we all said “let’s get an app”. So we did. But what happens to the comms around that – how easy is it to send a push notification to those who have the app? Did you get email at point of download and registration to add the person to your list? And can you connect how that person is interacting in your app, with the rest of their interactions with you?

And of course alongside all that, there’s social. Very few of us integrate our social with our CRM, never mind the rest of our comms channels so interest and conversations happening on Twitter or Facebook probably aren’t being connected to accounts that need to know about queries, questions or heaven forfend, complaints.

Oh, and let’s not forget the thing that started all of this – the web. How many of us have actually gone beyond adding sign up links to newsletters and options to get quotes via a form (and where does that data go – into your CRM to create an alert for you to create a quote or into an email?). How many of us use the data we have about browser behaviour to modify content based on preference or previous visits? Or target previous site visitors with advertising content?

Enter the vision for the future

Enter the marketing clouds – born out of frustrations with lack of integration and connection, born out of the need to move forward and have a single, clear picture of our customers – or prospects or even potential prospects. Enter a vision for the future that is real, here and now.

Sugati-CRM is based on the Salesforce platform, so our natural choice of communication tools to add to the package is the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It’s more than a natural choice though. It’s a Marketing Cloud with a mission, and a clear road map of future features and tools that will mean the future for marketing and connected communications is possibly so bright, we might actually have to wear shades in the office.

As for why we’ve integrated Salesforce CRM with Marketing Cloud. In short, it will make your life in marketing and operations and sales and procurement easier. It will help you to connect all your strings of activity and bring together a single, clear, customer driven communication approach throughout their whole experience with you. And beyond that, into a lifetime relationship with you as you are more clearly able to respond to their needs. It will also save you time. Once you have set out your logic and planned your communication assets, it’s fairly plug n play to deploy on a day to day basis. So it will save time where it counts – at the front end.

And a new way of marketing?

In the olden days (last year?) we talked of segmentation. We can still talk about it. It still works. But we’re still lumping together people based on what we think their behaviour and response may be, using patched up bits of data, maybe the results of a campaign or two and a bit of anecdote thrown in.

Our brave new world (this year or if you need time to plan, the year after) we are flipping our thinking to being 1:1 – no more lumping together (except if we want to – what happens in Vegas and all that). Now we are tailoring based on actual real-time behaviour and expressed preferences. And we can make that leap to truly personal by integrating all of our comms and using tools and channels together to drive journeys that individuals respond to, and which flex and adapt in real time too.

This is called omni-channel. All our channels. Offline and online. Built into journeys. No more multi-channel. Omni-channel is where it is at.

Lots of other sectors are using it. Retail in particular has many parallels with our own stories. Financial services. Even non-profits are starting to embrace this. It’s well past time for us in the travel sector to start to harvest the benefits and be prepared as innovations drive faster and faster. No more invest for 3 years then find a new tool. Now we need a platform that will flex and grow as we do.

If you want to know more about how Sugati-CRM and its integrated marketing cloud will help you transform the way you find and connect with your customers, get in touch or find out more via