As a priority, the leader needs to provide for the vision of the organisation and its strategy in light of changing external circumstances.

Leadership for Advancement is usually by the Chief Executive Officer or (Executive) Director or in a higher education context by Vice Chancellors and/or Deputy Vice Chancellors.

In order to attract resources to the organisation (the fundamentals of Advancement), the leader has to:

  • make a contribution to the image, profile and reputation of the organisation, and
  • build its external relationships and partnerships, provide its voice and enhance its visibility.

The leader is accountable to the organisation’s board and therefore needs to ensure proper oversight and monitoring of the organisations activities as well as quality control of its programmes and projects.  Whilst it is imperative that leaders inspire and motivate their employees, they also need to inspire and motivate their donors and other stakeholders.  They therefore need to be excellent communicators to ensure that people support the organisation and follow its direction.  The leader should also serve as an advisor and reference for organisational staff, but also for those with whom the organisation engages.  All this means that a significant component of the leader’s work is externally facing and this is the basis of good advancement practice.  When (NPO) leaders indicate that they do not have the time to devote to Advancement functions, it becomes critical to restructure his/her internal responsibilities for the organisation to allow time for externally facing activities.

An organisation is only as strong as its relationships with the external world – this is where all resources come from whether it is money, partnerships, networks, the media, staff, volunteers, knowledge or materials.

Author: Shelagh Gastrow , Executive Director – Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement