We can receive major gifts without a vision. But, we can’t raise major gifts without a vision.
All institutional visions, though, are not created equal. Some simply don’t create the kind of generous donor response that others do. Visions need help to become compelling from a development standpoint. Fruitful visions are built on the 3 C’s:
- CEO Commitment – if the CEO of the institution is not committed to the vision, is wishy-washy about the vision, is not convinced that the vision is the right course of future action, or is unwilling to reject alternatives to the vision, then the vision will be less than productive in raising significant charitable support;
- Clarity – if the vision is not clear, if different leaders have different understandings as to what the vision’s end results are, or if people include in the vision all of their pet projects and priorities, then the vision will be less than productive in raising significant charitable support;
- Consistency – if the vision is subject to change based on other options, or the particular whims of leaders, or if the vision is inconsistently communicated, then it will be less than productive in raising significant charitable support.
Purposefully advancing an institution requires more risk than some leaders are willing to accept. It means publicly articulating a path forward, a focus, a goal, an ambition, a vision. It means that not everything is known and it means saying “no” to some options. And, it means personally inviting others – donors and other influencers – to be supportive.
Many leaders simply can’t see any or all of those behaviors as being worth the risks of failing or upsetting some constituents.
But, if the 3 C’s of CEO Commitment, Clarity, and Consistency are embraced, your vision has the runway to help the institution soar.
And here’s a revelation worth knowing: The 3 C’s primarily impact development professionals, not donors. When the 3 C’s are present, development team members are more confident, enthusiastic, and feel more prepared to engage donors and invite their support.
The reason we can’t raise major gifts without a vision is not because a vision inspires donors. It’s because we inspire donors.
PS: Check out this resource for major gifts and prospect management teams we put together through the Gonser Gerber Institute. It’s quick (30 minutes) and gets to the heart of making your prospect management team more productive.