So where does the money come from?
July 27th, 2010We have two floors in the "world corporate headquarters" of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. The first floor houses the grantmaking/community leadership team who are hard-working, passionate, resourceful and driven! There is a quiet yet energizing atmosphere on this floor.
On the second floor it is a bit noisier! In one area, our superb finance and administration staff diligently watches over our finances and investments. I'm sure they are sometimes amused and at times riled by the noise levels coming from the dynamic development and marketing teams. The sales and marketing staff strategize about increasing awareness for GRCF and are not shy about asking for support to accomplish the great work that we do. And then there's me! I occupy an office on the second floor with a great view of the S-Curve and the patio of the Grand Woods Lounge which can be interesting at times!
Why am I telling you this? Because there has been quite a lot of discussion up here on the second floor regarding the role of fund development and its place in community foundations. Twenty years ago, the actual words "fund development" "resource development" or "fund raising" were not uttered in our field that often. Rather begs the question, so where was the money supposed to come from after all? In fact at that time one of my colleagues chose to call fund raising "community relations" instead because he felt it was a bit more dignified! Good heavens fund development is a great profession!
One day recently, I noticed that the din in the conference room next to my office was growing louder and louder. I went next door to find out what was going on! Apparently the brochure promoting our field's annual conference listed the various functional areas of community foundation staff except for development. While there were sessions that relate to development in the lineup, on the page that advertised "Something for Everyone", resource development was not listed.
Instead of turning this experience into a negative commentary, I have to say what has emerged in our office is a great platform for our team to proudly highlight their role in making this community foundation strong and at the ready to turn our promises into reality by selling our donors on our ability to address the most pressing concerns! And also reaching out to people to help them shape their plans on bringing their charitable dreams to life! In fact read more about how we are doing in new reports entitled "Grants at a Glance" by scrolling down to these great profiles located on our website.
I experienced in a meeting yesterday with Marilyn Zack our exceptional VP for Development and Gina Bovee our Development Director a strong commitment to selling this foundation. Yes - selling and marketing what we do best in our community! We are giving people the opportunity to donate their assets and/or discretionary income to support great programs knowing that we are in the business of results! Marilyn challenged a statement I made commenting that it is not easy to sell this foundation and the roles that we play. She noted that in other organizations it isn't so easy either! It basically takes reaching out to people and asking them for their support. It may take time to build trust and the realization that we are truly making a difference!
Just like in the for-profit arena, sales, marketing and fund development are critical elements in growing our foundation. We have a great group of professionals who are devoted to this community, our donors, our leaders, and selling our dreams!