Fundraisers come in different flavors. EDs often have trouble pinpointing the flavor they have, and predictable conflict arises when the ED has one notion and the fundraiser has another.
The vast majority of fundraisers are not bounty hunters, but my guess is a high percentage of EDs of smaller organizations, and especially startups, think that’s exactly what fundraisers are.
Direct marketers are broadcasters, “mailing to millions” as the eponymous book suggests.
But most fundraisers, and for sure major donor fundraisers are coaches. They organize a team to build and sustain relationships with big givers. They may or may not make the actual ask, but they’re on point to create the moment when the answer is most likely to be yes.
Like any coach, a fundraiser/coach is only as strong as her team. And her star player, her point guard if you’ll let me torture the metaphor, is usually the ED.
But what if your ED thinks you’re a bounty hunter?
A bounty hunter is a solitary player who goes out into the wilderness, bags their game, and brings it back slung over their shoulder. In the world of fundraising, the only thing that comes even close to bounty hunting is cold-calling donor prospects or maybe street intercepts. In both of those cases, however, there’s a lot of infrastructure and investment that supports the hunters.
I have heard more than one ED express exasperation that their development person can’t just go out and bag a few donations. Isn’t that their job, they ask?
Metaphors are powerful things. If your ED thinks you’re a bounty hunter, take the time to make sure they really understand how the game works.