Thursday, August 9, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Alignment

Who does Development work for?

Now, I clearly understand that the personnel in the Development department work for the organization. That’s no different than saying that the employees at the local JC Penny work for JC Penny.

That’s not exactly my question.

A better way to phrase my question is “Who is Development aligned with?”

While the sales clerks at JC Penny work for JC Penny and want to sell their merchandise, when they engage the customer, they work to understand the customer’s needs, thereby aligning themselves with the interest of the customer.

The given must be that they offer excellent merchandise and, of course, offer a customer guarantee of satisfaction. But beyond that, the sales clerk must empathize with the customer and align his interests with hers so that ultimately she remains a long-term loyal customer of JC Penney. If that means losing a sale now and then, so be it.

You would say then that the JC Penny sales clerk is customer-focused rather than JC Penny-focused.

Of course, this attitude of the JC Penny sales clerk is taught and encouraged by JC Penny management because they understand the link between being customer-focused and building a successful retail operation built on loyal customers.

Does Development align with their donors in a similar way to the JC Penny sales clerks and their customers?

My sense is that in the past… not so much. Thirty years ago the organization had a mission and their job was to “do” mission. Development’s job was to fund the mission and the donor’s job was to give money. They all knew and understood their roles, and thirty years ago the donors were primarily from the Depression and WWII generations, and they were fine with that alignment.

But beginning with the Baby Boomer generation, the roles weren’t so clear. The organization still would do mission and Development was still charged with raising the money to fund the mission, but now the donors wanted to be treated as more than an ATM.

Accountability and transparency are more and more the watch words in donations received from the Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial generational cohorts.

Today…who does Development work for?


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