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CEOs discuss development

Edith Yoder
It’s difficult to narrow down the single most important development role of a CEO, since the work of development is, by its’ very nature, so multi-faceted. I have found that being open — visionary, invitational and transparent — in relationships with board, staff and donors is key to development. This approach provides space for dreaming, achieving and celebrating the mission, while acknowledging the difficulties, barriers and learnings as we work to achieve our goals. We all want to be a part of a mission that transforms lives and yet I believe that our donors also want to hear from me in authentic ways about the real-life nature of our work.                                       –Edith Yoder              Bridge of Hope National

We asked several CEOs to reply to this question: “What is the single most important role you, as a CEO, play in development?” While the most popular answer was “to be able to articulate the vision and mission of the organization,” respondents offered these additional thoughts:

• To listen to the dreams of potential donors.

• To maintain a strong relationship with the chief development officer.

• To make the “ask.”

• To build relationships with the community by sharing the organization’s story.

• To be able to intelligently talk about the day-to-day operational successes and challenges, how the organization demonstrates good stewardship, is achieving positive outcomes for its clients, is exercising best governance practices, and is making a difference.

• To be involved in establishing direction for the development program.

• To ensure that supporters have confidence in leaders’ competence and integrity so that they have reasons to invest in the organization’s work.

• To create relationships of trust with constituents in the community and at a distance.

• To be a person of integrity and character, and to be accessible.