More than just Fundraising Consultants: How Three Decades as an Executive Director Prepared me for the World of Fundraising

By Eric Tschanz, Senior Consultant

Yes, we have experience with raising funds for projects, but the three Senior Consultants at Byrne Pelofsky also bring over 75 years of upper-level management experience as Executive Directors to the table.  This gives us a different perspective on fundraising situations as well as overall institutional management.  We have been there as staff, have had to work with and understand Boards and development committees and, most importantly, we have interacted with many different types of donors on all levels.  As our client, we understand how it works for you and the challenges you are dealing with from a staff and board standpoint.

Working With + Advising Staff/Volunteers

The guidance we provide is not just as a fundraising consultant, but also as a prior staff member.  We have had the opportunity to work with Board members and volunteers training them on the proper way to make an ask.  And we know how to remedy an ask that does not follow the script.  We have had to coax volunteers to pick up the phone to make the call for an appointment and to make sure the team was ready and equipped for the visit.

Asking the Right Questions

Having been through numerous campaigns while managing an institute, we understand the need for realistic construction budgets, operating budgets and staffing requirements.  Although we may not be an expert in your field, we have the management background to ask the right questions. Even larger, more seasoned institutes can benefit from a fresh set of eyes.

Understanding Special Challenges

As your fundraising consultant we are focused on your capital or major gift campaign, but bring other insights that might be useful for the organization.  We have all drafted and read numerous annual gift letters and are often asked to review a letter from our perspective. We understand the challenges of special events and can provide our insights and opinions that might make them more financially successful.  With a focus on ROI we have all learned how to deal with earned income projects such as membership programs.

A Shoulder to Lean On

And it can be lonely at the top. Often Executive Directors do not have a second in command or a board member that they feel comfortable with in discussing management concerns. They might feel weak by discussing an issue with a board member or maybe the issue is with the second in command.  As consultants we might be asked about specific human resource issues, budgets, board relationships and more.  These confidential discussions with someone who has been there can provide additional insight for the executive director.

I look at myself and my co-consultants as being ambidextrous.  Yes, we bring our strong suite of fundraising to the table, but if requested can provide additional support and guidance on a variety of management issues.  We all enjoy sharing our experiences.

Eric Tschanz led Powell Gardens, Inc. as President and Executive Director for nearly three decades. While at Powell Gardens, he implemented the first two phases of the Gardens’ master plan.  He helped grow the gardens from a staff of 15 to 52, and led the organization in endowment development and major and planned gift capacity building. Eric is now a Senior Consultant with Byrne Pelofsky and works on a number of our capital and major gift campaign projects. Email Eric.

 

 

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