Being an advancement leader brings with it the responsibility to “teach up.” Whether you work with a Dean, a Chancellor, a President, a CEO, or a Board member, getting the best possible results means working with and through others. In many instances, donors will respond more generously when an institutional leader plays a meaningful role in their giving experience.
Below is a quick typology based on an institutional leader’s attitudes and aptitudes around the fundraising process. Both their emotional disposition as well as their abilities play a role in how you should engage them.
Fundraising Attitudes and Aptitudes of Leaders and How to Engage:
This 2×2 model suggests that the “Eager-Unskilled” institutional leaders should be coached by advancement professionals and that the “Eager-Skilled” leaders are ready to go raise a lot of money and should be fully engaged by advancement! For those leaders that are “Reluctant-Unskilled,” we want to involve them strategically only in donor activities that are identified as low-risk and high-enjoyment. And for the “Reluctant-Skilled” leaders, we need to better understand their reluctance and then provide the leadership, education, encouragement, and motivation to enhance their fundraising comfort-level and enthusiasm.
Of course, Presidents, CEOs, Chancellors, Deans, etc., fall somewhere along the continuums between the two ends of these attitude and aptitude variables. But, this model is a helpful reminder that our work as advancement professionals involves teaching, engaging, and encouraging not only our team members and our donors, but also those to whom we report. We must use a variety of tools to get the results our institutions need. And understanding better the development attitudes and aptitudes of our institutional leaders helps us get those results.
So, where does your institutional leader land in the model? And, more importantly, how will you engage her differently once you decide?