For years, I really didn’t like someone following up and asking me if I did something I said I was going to do. But, while I didn’t like it, I appreciated it, because having people in my life to hold me accountable to things has made me successful at my work.

Ask Richard, he’ll tell you.

This is also what makes our approach to major gifts successful.


It’s something very simple, yet very little of it is practiced in our industry. Accountability would mean that you have a manager who meets with their frontline fundraising staff very regularly, like every week. Yes! At Veritus, we meet with those we co-manage every week.

We’ve found in almost two decades of doing this work, that meeting every week is the key to a fundraiser’s success. Essentially, the fundraiser is asked, “Did you do what you said you were going to do?”

Simple, yet powerful. It’s powerful because the fundraiser has made a promise about how they were going to carry out their strategic plan that week, and they know they will be asked how it was executed on. And, if it wasn’t executed on, they will have to answer why.

Now, when you read that last paragraph, it could sound harsh. It could feel like you’re being micromanaged. But that’s not the reality.

Because in those weekly meetings, you’re meeting with someone who wants you to succeed. Someone who is your cheerleader, providing you with solid strategy advice and a listening ear.

When you have someone like that meeting with you every week, you look forward to that weekly meeting. Why? Because we all need that encouragement, advice, empathy, and yes, accountability to be our best.

A few years ago, the famous Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels was asked, “Why is it that actors have such success on your show but have trouble in the ‘outside’ world when they leave the show?” His answer surprised the interviewer.

He said, “The reason our actors are successful here is that we provide a structure – we hold our actors accountable to rehearse and rehearse until they get it right. I’ve found that creative people flourish when you provide boundaries, and they are held accountable. Unfortunately, many actors fizzle out quickly when they leave here, because they no longer have those boundaries that actually set them free.”

We know without a shadow of a doubt that a frontline fundraiser will be successful if they have the proper structure AND accountability.

Every fundraiser that has worked with us who embraces the ability to allow themselves to work within “The Veritus Way” does incredibly well. And, in many cases it is a fundraiser who at first fights the whole accountability thing, and then quickly realizes it had some merit, who becomes the most successful.

If you’re a manager, this is no small thing. Your success depends on your ability to hold your staff accountable to their goals and actions in a caring, kind, and nurturing way. If you’re a frontline fundraiser, allowing yourself to be held accountable and working within a structure will give you immense freedom and creativity to develop meaningful relationships with your donors.

The more accountability you build into your mid, major, and planned giving programs, the longer you will remain in your position, the deeper your relationship will become with your donors, and the more net revenue there will be to fund your important mission.


PS — Looking for support in keeping yourself or your team accountable to your goals? This is what we do! We’d love to help you stay on track to fulfill your mission to make the world a better place.