Marc Pitman, the Fundraising Coach and the CEO of the Concord Leadership Group, joined the Catholic School Matters podcast in Episode #46. Pitman shared a lot of great lessons for Catholic School Matters. The first advice came from his Concord Leaders podcast where he shared the lesson that leaders need to “get on the balcony” and step off the dance floor from time to time. These strategic pauses allow leaders to put things together and reflect on what is working.
Pitman also advocates for professional learning and coaching. If leaders aren’t reflecting and learning, they aren’t getting better. In fact, many school leaders are also fundraisers and fear that part of the job. Pitman advises that leaders need to dedicate time to learning about fundraising. If you’re not trying to improve your craft, that fear will prevent you from asking effectively.
All leaders suffer from the imposter syndrome and false humility, according to Pitman. We need to own our areas of growth and try to improve. There are techniques to fundraising and there are lessons that can be learned. But if we aren’t open to learning, how will we learn? He also mentions that school leaders need to claim their lane of educational expertise and own the fact that they do some things very well. This is where a Board can be very helpful–offering help toward fundraising but understanding that the educational expertise lies with you.
Pitman argues that effective fundraising is finding ways to connect our great work with the values of donors. Rather than simply asking for money, we need to ask our potential donors what they value and how they would like to make an impact. Donors want to give to organizations that possess opportunity and have a track record of success—or even a pathway to success. He explains that’s why people give to Harvard’s endowment. Harvard doesn’t really need money the same way a struggling inner-city school does but perhaps the inner-city school hasn’t outlined or proved their pathway to success.
No one wants to hear only about you. Schools should talk less about themselves (“Feed me, Seymour”) and more about what the donors want.