The Importance of Management

By Katherine Wertheim, CFRE and

I was once part of a team of professionals that received a grant to teach nonprofits across America skills that were critical to running a nonprofit. Katherine WertheimI taught fundraising, another teacher taught grant writing, and so forth. A foundation paid for us to go out to fourteen areas, but each area could choose which teachers it wanted. 11 of the towns asked for me, the most of all of us, because everyone knows they need fundraising. Among the six teachers, there was one professional who taught how to manage people. Would you like to know how many areas requested her? None. Zip. Nada. There were no nonprofit leaders who thought they needed to learn management.

It’s stunning to me that nonprofit leaders don’t think they need to understand how to manage others. I think that managing people is like building a lever long enough to move the world. For example, if you can manage seven people, and they manage seven people each, then you’re managing the activities of 57 people, including yourself.  How much more could you accomplish if 56 other people were working with you? And if the 49 people managed by your seven managers were to also manage seven people, you would add another 343 people to accomplishing your goals. How amazing would that be?

Every successful organization and corporation that you see is creating managers and managing them.  For example, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers didn’t change 16,000 drunk driving laws because founder Candy Lightner went and spoke, did they? No, they changed those laws because people were managing other people, who accomplished the goals and mission of MADD. The U.S. government didn’t help win World War II because Presidents Roosevelt and Truman personally fought in battle, right? It was thousands and tens of thousands of military personnel managing others and fighting themselves that got it done. Bill Gates doesn’t go out and personally sell Microsoft Office software to individuals; he manages teams who manage teams and ultimately the software dominates the worldwide market.

Better management contributes to improved fundraising and more dollars being raised, which is my area of expertise.  I see many executive directors who are so bogged down in the basic tasks of running their nonprofit organizations that they don’t have time to fundraise. For example, one director was always fixing the computers in his organization. If he had delegated this task to someone else, and provided training for them, it would have freed up his time to visit donors who could give $1,000 or more. Just the first hour he spent in soliciting a gift would have paid for the training for someone else to fix the computers. Another example is the director who trains his volunteers in delivering groceries to low-income families. If he delegated this task to someone else, he’d have time to call donors to thank them personally and to ask for their feedback on his programs, making it more likely they will give renewed and increased gifts. If you don’t manage others to do low-level tasks, you never get to the point where you can conduct the higher-level tasks that require a top-level person to do them.

But if you’ve never had any training, coaching, or education in how to manage people, you’ll be lost in management. Managing others is not instinctive: there are many techniques that have been studied that lead to successful outcomes. Can you name ten? If you can’t, you need to learn management. It’s not enough to manage people: you have to learn how to do it effectively and efficiently if you want measurable, repeatable results.

If you couldn’t name ten management techniques, here are  the 10 Top Success Strategies for Managers developed by  Dr. Lynn K. Jones.  And, if you want a complimentary coaching session to learn more about how to implement any of these Success Strategies so that you can become a better manager, you can Schedule a Session here or call Dr. Jones at 1-800-509-1740.

If you have questions about fundraising and training in fundraising for your nonprofit board of directors, contact Katherine Wertheim, CFRE, at or read her blog at



p.s. I always am interested in what you think about these discussions. Please post your thoughts on the blog…your constructive criticism and support is appreciated!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach

Your Mojo Maven

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values.


  1. Calla Gold on July 17, 2011 at 12:06 am

    I’m happy to see that team thinking is alive and well in the non-profit sector.
    Nice post Dr. Jones.

    • Executive Coach on July 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks, Calla. Working as a team is definitely a key to success!

  2. Mystery novelist on July 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

    It’s startling to learn that non-profits aren’t interested in management. Perhaps it’s because the term suggests control. In fact, it means empower. Good managers know how to release human potential and inspire achievement. Could there be a more important skill?

    • Executive Coach on July 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      You wouldn’t think that there would be anything more important in a nonprofit than good leadership, would you? It is disappointing. I think that nonprofit executives think that they should be selfless and that they think that getting the kind of support that Wertheim suggests feels like a nice idea but not a necessary one. Wertheim is making a really important point that it is necessary! And it is not selfish because it will really be productive for their organizations. I hope that some nonprofits take her advice to heart!

  3. Neha on July 17, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Management is the key. I have worked under two different Directors of a Department in a University. One director was great at communication, down to earth attitude and very sensible approach to his employees. He was always supportive of what his employees suggested and everyone always treated him like he was at the same level as us. When he transferred to another department, the new director came in with a very different approach and attitude. She requested everyone to refer to her as “Dr…” She was not approachable and did not care what her employees thought of her plans and just passed the information to them. She sent about 20 emails in an hour to her employee working right next door to her. She gave no space to others and a lot of times it was disrespectful as well. It was amazing and shocking to me that she expected 40 student assistants and 30 professors/office staff to change their working ways according to her rather than working with them slowly to bring the change she wanted. No one enjoyed working with her and the quick response was to find a transfer to another department or just find another options. I think a lot of people stuck to the job because of lack of opportunity and recession!!! So knowing how to manage a department or anything is the key to successful program.


    • Executive Coach on July 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story. It certainly is a great example of exactly what Wertheim is talking about! It makes me sad to hear how demoralizing inadequate management is when it is so unnecessary!

  4. Paul Berenson on July 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    When Nixon abolished the draft and established the all-volunteer army, he focused on creating more Generals amd other high level officers, figuring the lower levels would take care of themselves.

  5. madeleine vite on July 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    It is so important for me to see team thinking is alive and well in the non-profit sector.

  6. Brian Perkins on July 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I feel like many times managers get to where they are because they are good at specific job skills. However, being good at xyz doesn’t always translate to being able to manage other people to do xyz effectively. Management is frequently a totally different skill set and this article is right on in saying that effective management it isn’t always instinctive.

    • lynnkjones on July 29, 2011 at 2:30 am

      Brian, It is such an important point. So often the only way you can advance, especially in the nonprofit world, is by becoming a manager. We lose a lot of talented people in the ranks because that is the only way they can earn more money and they end up doing something that they are not adequately prepared to do.
      Thanks for commenting!

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