The Awesome Resourcefulness of Scrappy Fundraisers

By Esther Landau

Can you relate to this? You attend a webinar about major gifts and you get a little misty-eyed when someone refers to their “prospect research department.” You hear “good fundraisers should almost never be at their desks!” but you’re always behind on gift entry since you spent the past week on that grant proposal/social media campaign/volunteer training/event planning.

Someone who works in a small shop has such a completely different day-to-day experience from someone working in a large one that it can be hard to see any similarities between the two jobs.

You have to be pretty scrappy to be a one-person fundraising machine! You have to use all your creativity and sheer willpower to meet fundraising goals, get things out the door and into donors’ hands. You have to rely on your friends and volunteers to make events happen - you can’t afford to hire an outside consultant.

Like many fundraisers, I started my career in a one-person development shop - I did love the highwire aspect of that job. Still, the day I went from being a one-person shop to running a 3-person one, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had someone else to generate mailing lists from the database! It took me a while (and a few key hires) to finally be able to do that thing I’d heard about - visiting donors!

I don’t know the stats, but my gut tells me the majority of nonprofits out there have tiny fundraising shops, but the majority of fundraisers work for big ones. If you’re one of those scrappy fundraisers, just know that you’re doing hugely important work. And you’re not alone.

Join any or all of our 3-part noontime series for small shop fundraisers on June 24, July 30, and August 26. Click here for details:

For more on Esther Landau, visit her LinkedIn page here.