Fundraising leaders … ‘consider your exit strategy’

As I sat in the lecture theatre listening to angel investor guru Dr Tom McKaskill present on … ‘Venture capital investment and high value exits’ … I kept thinking about how fundraising leaders might apply a high value exit strategy to benefit their careers and the organisations they serve.

Maybe I was just daydreaming when McKaskill said … business owners, entrepreneurs and investors are locked into an old paradigm about value creation being based on proven profitability… because I was hearing …flawed fundraising cost ratio discussions and damaging short term fundraising budgeting.

Maybe I was just daydreaming when Mckaskill said … but this is not what ‘acquirers’ are evaluating. They are looking to the future and assessing what return they will achieve on their investment … because I heard ‘donors’ in place of ‘aquirers’!

But after McKaskill said … thus it is the future potential of the business which is much more important than its past. As soon as we accept this view, we can be proactive about creating a future which can deliver a much higher value to the buyer than what can be shown from past results … I realised I wasn’t dreaming after all! That’s what fundraising leaders accept too, and that’s what they invest in with donors and with the institutions/causes they serve.

So when should fundraising leaders start planning their next career move? By applying ‘exit strategy’ they should consider when they might leave an organisation before even agreeing to work with an organisation – when considering applying for a new position or when considering providing fundraising counsel for a new client. As McKaskill says they need to be … looking to the future and assessing what return they will achieve on their investment.

If you can’t deliver a strong return on an organisation’s investment in you, don’t invest in them. You need to be able to ensure the ‘right’ organisation makes the ‘right’ investment in you before committing your skills to create new strategies and work practices delivering higher fundraising returns on investment over a prescribed period of time.

You need to be able to assess, prepare and deliver a three to five year fundraising business plan. You need to know the critical timeframe in that plan when the return of investment in you is at its peak – because that’s the point at which you need to apply your exit strategy.

It’s in your best interest that you leave at the point of greatest return and least reputational risk.

It’s in the organisations best interest because part of the fundraising business plan you prepared includes succession planning strategies, team building, fundraising professional development and fundraising corporate culture strategies.

Thanks Dr Tom McKaskill for reminding us that fundraising professionals … need to focus on strategic exits if they are to achieve a high return on their investments.

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