I saw an article today addressing the issue of how a large percentage of professional fundraisers would like to take on leadership roles in the non-profit sector but that few executive positions are filled by people with that background. 

Here is the link to an interview with two fundraisers who were successful in making the upward transition:
Civil Society - Voices from the Other Side, Fundraisers who become Chief Executives

The argument that the two interviewees make centers around the broad range of high-level business, relational, and communication skills that are required of successful fundraisers and how well they translate into leadership roles. I agree that some of the most dynamic individuals I've met have been in the fundraising industry and that there is an ability among many of my colleagues to create and communicate a vision for the future with clarity and passion. In other words, there are excellent leaders hidden in the ranks!

From my perspective, there are two things that might help:

1. As a community, fundraisers need to articulate better for themselves and their peers what it is exactly that they do. What is required of them daily for success and what special talents do they bring to the table? I always think that the CMA does a great job of doing this in their television and print ads for their own constituency.


2. Fundraisers also need to develop personally as great leaders. They need to look for opportunities to learn from the best of the best and to understand what leadership means. Some of my colleagues have taken the step of enrolling in Leadership MBA programs. Others have looked to expanding their reading lists, networking with leaders and seeking out mentors both on and offline. 

One of my current favorite sources for information is Alan Kay who offers coaching in the Solutions Focus change model. In one respect, leading is about knowing how and when to create and facilitate change. I learn a lot from simply following his free webinars and blog posts. 

What else do you think we could be doing? If your aspirations include leadership, how are you moving in that direction?

Update: Excellent article on Fundraising and Leadership appeared via the AFP Resource centre. Here's the link: Association of Fundraising Professionals

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