An Open Letter from a Nonprofit Executive Director

06/11/2015 at 09:30 7 comments

Dear Director of Development,

I am writing to give you some feedback on your work to date. I review the budget regularly and noticed 5%-10% increases in individual, corporate and foundation giving. But given what we pay you, I really expected better results.

When we talked during your interview, you asked how our Board is involved in fundraising. I told you they do what they can. But you keep asking for time on the Board agenda. I don’t see why that is necessary. We have more important things than fundraising to discuss at the Board meeting. It isn’t their job to do yours. In fact, I don’t see why you keep asking to meet Board members. I am the only staff person who should talk to Board members. We don’t want to burden them, they are volunteers after all.

I am also concerned about your time in the office. Every time I look for you, you aren’t here. When I check your calendar you are out of the office seeing someone. I assume they are donors or something, but why do you have to go out to see them. There is work you need to be doing in the office and if I can’t see you, I don’t know what you are doing.

Every month, you have given me lists of donors to call along with notes on each donor and some talking points. I don’t see the point in me spending time making these calls. I am very busy and thought I hired you to handle fundraising.

I understand from other directors that you have asked to attend their department meetings. And that you have asked their staff for help in writing program grants. Again, how does this help with fundraising?

I reviewed the grant calendar you provide every month. I was surprised only 30% of the grants you submitted resulted in funding. And most of those were for program support. I am sure there are foundations who want to support our general operations and programs. I think you need to spend more time on foundation funding that will support our administrative costs.

Like so many fundraisers who have preceded you, I have high expectations given your experience and what we are paying you. I look forward to talking with you about your work and my expectations.


Your Executive Director

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Entry filed under: Fundraising, Letters. Tags: , , , .

Letter from the President of the Board Daring to Lead* – A Survey of Nonprofit Executive Leadership

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nonprofit Blog Carnival  |  31/03/2010 at 17:16

    […] An Open Letter from a Nonprofit Executive Director with Talisman Think Out Loud […]

  • 2. Diann Gropp-Roth  |  24/02/2010 at 11:16

    Barbara —
    This letter is hysterical … Sadly, it rings true to many of us in the development world!
    Thanks for posting!

    • 3. Barbara Talisman  |  24/02/2010 at 11:21

      I am glad it made you laugh….and cry…It is a lament I have heard from many in the nonprofit field about their work.

  • 4. Jendarra  |  19/02/2010 at 13:52

    Third Sector makes a great counterpoint as well: Ditch your ED/CEO report and let your staff do the reporting at board meeetings:

  • 6. Jendarra  |  18/02/2010 at 14:04

    Don’t walk…run to or @execsearches or any job forum of your choice. You wouldn’t find a for-profit biz whose CEO claims not to be in sales. Or who lets other departments off the hook.
    You might take some board members out for lunch and find out if they’re happy with the status quo. But if they don’t see fund development as a primary job responsibility of theirs either, see above. You’ve only got a limited number of years to make an impact, and you won’t make progress here!


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