It’s easy to critique. It’s more difficult to create.
It can feel less burdensome to evaluate. And far more arduous to produce.
It can seem safer to be the respondent. And more vulnerable to be the proposer.
But being the creator, the producer, the proposer, is a role the very best advancement leaders are willing and able to play with the teams reporting to them and with donors. Regardless of your title or position, as you find ways to effectively play the proposer role, you will have more leadership success.
Meeting with a group of colleagues to brainstorm about a solution to a problem can be enhanced almost always by someone sharing a written framework to help shape the discussion. Or sharing some written initial thoughts on a potential plan. Or distributing a written, single sheet to identify the key issues and who in the group might initially be best positioned to address each.
Major gift donors and prospects expect to respond to a gift proposal. It doesn’t mean that the donor will respond affirmingly to the gift amount or the purpose of the proposal. But, regardless of any individual response, there is little question in the research that you will receive larger gifts when you ask for specific amounts as compared to when you simply play the role of gift receiver.
Here’s the special sauce:
Being the proposer means you must be willing to do the work beforehand. It means you must be open to having your proposal critiqued. And it means you must possess the kind of interpersonal influence which emerges from trusting relationships and open, transparent communication.
“Unblanking the page,” for the team or for a donor, is the opposite of acting autocratic. It’s authentically collaborative.