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An Executive's Guide to Fundraising Operations: Principles, Tools and Trends

ISBN: 978-1-118-03029-5
256 pages
February 2011
An Executive


A straightforward guide to the principles of effective fundraising operations

An Executive Guide to Fundraising Operations provides fundraisers with easy-to-understand approaches to evaluate and address fundraising operations needs and opportunities. This guide simplifies and focuses on the analysis of problems and needs, allowing a quick return to fundraising.

  • Provides the essential framework to improve and innovate development operations
  • Includes dozens of practical tools, including sample policies for data, database, reporting, and business processes
  • Offers sample workflow illustrations for gift processing and acknowledgment, report specification, and other processes
  • Features sample reports for campaign management, performance management, and exception management
  • Delivers effective calculators for operational rules of thumb

No matter what the department is called, most fundraisers struggle with evaluating operational issues. This guide leads you through principles of effective fundraising operations, simplifies complicated topics, and offers solutions to some of the most vexing operations dilemmas.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xix

CHAPTER 1 Introduction 1

Supporting Fundraising 2

What Is Fundraising Operations and Where Should It Fit in the Organization? 2

Fundraising Operations: What’s in a Name? 3

What Does ‘‘Fundraising Operations’’ Include? 5

Organizational and Environmental Factors Shape Operations 8

Using This Guide to Improve Decisions 13

CHAPTER 2 Principles of Fundraising Operations 15

Data, Technology, Reporting, Process, and People 16

Data 18

Technology 31

Reporting 34

Processes as Key Responsibilities 39

People 41

CHAPTER 3 Responsibilities of Your Fundraising Operations Team 51

Technology Management 51

Primary Roles in Transitions: Arbiter and Advocate 52

Data Maintenance 68

Gift Processing 70

Reporting 75

Prospect Development 79

Stewardship 88

Compliance 92

IT, HR, Finance, and More 98

A Special Note about Finance 100

CHAPTER 4 Program Support 103

Major Giving 104

Annual and Unrestricted Giving 104

Constituent Engagement Programs 107

Events 107

Special Initiatives or Constituencies 110

Healthcare Fundraising and Grateful Patient and Family Programs as Special Cases 111

Moving from Fundamentals to Innovations 113

CHAPTER 5 Trends, Fads, and Staying Ahead of the Curve 115

Which Curve? 116

Applying Principles to Trends 120

Volume, Accessibility, and Ubiquity of Data 122

Consumer Data, Analytics, and Ethics 124

Virtualization, Web Applications, and Mobility 127

Social Media Mania 132

Evolving Applications for Evolving Technologies 136

Advances in Reporting and Analytics 143

New Staff and Performance Considerations 148

Fast-Moving Trends 158

CHAPTER 6 Decision Advice from the Field 161

Ideas from Practitioners 162

Development Executive at a Leading Australian University 162

Children’s Healthcare Foundation President 163

Fundraising Operations Consultant 164

Liberal Arts College Vice President 166

Advancement Leadership at a Division I University 167

University System Operations Assistant Vice President 169

Healthcare Executive Director of Development 170

Executive Director at a Top 10 University 171

Development Director at a Leading Medical Center 172

Making Your Executive Decisions 172

CHAPTER 7 Tools for Fundraising Operations 175

Fundraisingoperations.com 175

Data 176

What Are the 10 Signs of Bad Data? 176

How Do You Know Your Data Are Accurate? 178

Technology 178

What Are the Five Myths of the Conversion Process? 178

What Does a Data Exception Log Look Like? 180

How Effective Is the Implementation of Your Database? 181

What Does a Sample Scorecard Look Like? 182

Reporting 182

What Are the Seven Qualities of a Great Reporting Environment? 182

What Are Five of the Most Important Types of Reports for Campaign and Prospect Management? 184

What Does an Effective Data Dictionary Look Like? 189

Processes 189

How Can You Calculate and Establish Impact Measures for Your Operations Team? 189

How Can You Gauge Good Training Outcomes? 190

How Can You Evaluate Your Gift Processing? 190

What Does the ‘‘Front-of-the-Line’’ Approach Look Like for Gift Processing? 193

How Should Gift Processing Assess Donor’s Checks? 194

What Does a Good Staff Survey on Operations Look Like? 194

How Can You Start a Great Prospect Management System? 196

Staff 199

What Are the 10 Characteristics of Great Operations Team Members? 199

What Are the Five Signs Team Members Are Looking for New Positions? 200

How Can You Assess Staff Performance of the Operations and Other Teams? 201

Epilogue 205

Appendix A: Sample Data Dictionary 211

Appendix B: APRA Statement of Ethics 220

Glossary 221

Bibliography 225

About the Author 227

AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards 229

A Donor Bill of Rights 230

Index 231

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Author Information

Christopher Cannon, CFRE, is a managing associate with Bentz Whaley Flessner, a full-service development consulting firm serving higher education, healthcare, and nonprofits. Mr. Cannon partners with clients around the world to leverage their data, technology, and processes to foster increased fundraising results. His presentations and writing, such as recent articles in AHP Journal and AFP's Advancing Philanthropy, focus the fundraiser on aligning fundraising operations with the organization's programs and mission.
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