Donovan's Donor Diary

If you are trying to raise money for your favorite charity/cause, Donovan's Donor Diary provides you with facts, tips and best practices on how to raise millions of dollars for people, pets and the planet.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Managing for Success in 2006 -- A Tribute to Peter F. Drucker

My first job was with the United Way of Utica, New York in 1974. There I was, fresh out of college with a degree in philosophy, in charge of a $1,000,000 community-wide campaign in a city with an unemployment rate of over ten percent!

I was tasked with organizing hundreds of details for a fund raising campaign consisting of dozens of mini in-house employee campaigns, mostly employee payroll deductions at major firms, without a clue as to what to do first. Sure, I was armed with the usual brochures, film projector, screen and ready to sign employee payroll deduction pledge forms. However, these events were scheduled all times of the day and night. In fact, a few were at midnight for the night shift at a hospital. Talk about chasing one's tail.

I recall ending one long day of paper work. As I was leaving the office my boss asked, "So, how was your day?" I replied, "Great, I got all that stuff off my desk. It feels so good." He then pointed to a dozen campaign kits on a table and said, "And, how many of these Employee Campaign Chairmen did you meet with today to get the campaigns underway at their firms?"

It was a gotcha moment. I knew then it was time for me to shift my thinking from the metaphysics of Aristotle to more practical matters like how to manage myself and time.

Then I read a line from Peter F. Drucker's book, published in 1968, The Effective Executive, that has been a guiding principle for me to this day: "Effective executives get the right things done." In other words, you can get a lot of stuff done on your desk during the day, but at the end of the day, did getting all that stuff done bring you closer to meeting your objectives?

As a fund raising/management consultant for over twenty years now, it's been interesting assessing situations that clients face. These range from not raising enough money to organizational drifting due to a lack of strategic planning.

In each case you have to listen and do your best to understand the situation. More often than not, the challenge facing a nonprofit isn't insufficient fund raising, but rather, not prudently managing the money they've got. No amount of fund raising can make up for out-of-control spending or poor board governance/stewardship of gifts. The local media reported on a dozen nonprofits this year that nearly went under for what was reported as not receiving enough donations. Baloney! A closer look showed there was plenty of money; it was just being poorly managed or expertly stolen. I hear a voice -- focus on getting the right things done.

Drucker died on November 11 of 2005 at the age of 95. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was a professor at Claremont Graduate University in California. Fortune 500 executives hailed Drucker as the greatest management thinker and writer of all time.

When asked in a recent interview what he does, Drucker replied, "I write." And, for years he wrote for corporate America. Then in 1999, he published his first book for the nonprofit sector: Managing The Nonprofit Organization. He got right to the point in the first paragraph in the first chapter:

"The nonprofit organization exists to bring about a change in individuals and in society. The first thing to talk about is what missions work and what missions don't work, and how to define the mission. For the ultimate test is not the beauty of the mission statement. The ultimate test is the right direction." Right on Peter!

If you haven't read either of the above books by Drucker, I highly recommend you do so. Then, you will be hooked and move on to his many other great books. Such as: Managing for the Future, The 1990's and Beyond; The Daily Drucker 366 DAYS OF INSIGHT and MOTIVATION for GETTING the RIGHT THINGS DONE; or The Practice of Management. To learn more about Drucker's books or to purchase them go to:

It's now 2006 -- a new year is underway. Surely many challenges lie ahead for you and your organization. Do yourself and employer a favor. Meet these challenges head-on by learning how to plan and manage more effectively and efficiently in 2006. Begin by seeking the wisdom of the ultimate management consultant of our time, Peter F. Drucker.

All the best for success in 2006.

James A. Donovan
Donovan Management