Ep 169: When Your ED Has a Low Appetite For Fundraising (with Kishshana Palmer)

by Joan Garry

Does your organization have an ED with a low appetite for fundraising? Tune in to learn how strengthening the partnership between your ED and development director can help!


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When asked to describe the differences between the nonprofit and corporate sectors, one specific thing I point to is the centrality of partnerships.

In fact, I’ve long said the single best sign of a thriving nonprofit is a strong relationship between the executive director and board chair.

But what about other kinds of key partnerships? In particular, I’m thinking about the relationship between the executive and development directors.

This one is REALLY important. In fact, it’s one of the most important relationships at most nonprofits.

So I was particularly interested to hear from my friend Kishshana Palmer about how to make this relationship really work.

Kishshana and I both have TONS of stories we could share about Development Director and Executive Director partnerships gone wrong….

There was that ED who really doesn’t like rich people very much. And the ED who commits to making an ask and then… doesn’t. And the ED who’s worried guests at a special event will feel awkward if they make a specific pledge for support.


If you work in nonprofit development and have an ED with a low appetite for fundraising, this episode is especially for you.

According to Kishshana, the answer lies in knowing your ED’s leadership style. After working closely with many different nonprofit executive directors throughout her career, Kishshana has identified several styles of leadership and uncovered strategies for leveraging them through collaboration and partnership.

While there may be leaders out there who dread fundraising, everyone in your organization wants to see your organization thrive. With this mindset, even the most reluctant leaders can learn to love fundraising.

Click play to learn:

  • How is the relationship between your organization’s nonprofit development director and ED? (0:39)
  • Why do some executive directors have a low appetite for fundraising? (4:11)
  • Why is building relationships so important for executive directors? (6:53)
  • How can development directors help executive directors evolve from simply collecting names to building relationships with a purpose? (8:54)
  • As a development director interviewee, how do you learn the fundraising appetite and prowess of the executive director? (10:24)
  • How do adults’ relationship to money soil fundraising? (18:24)
  • How can nonprofits do a better job of educating their board and staff about the value of development? (47:19)


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About Kishshana Palmer

Kishshana Palmer is an international speaker, trainer, and coach with a 20+ year background in fundraising, marketing, and talent management who helps leaders create high-performing teams. She is a NYC girl and mother of one wonderful teenage daughter, and the epitome of your classic 90’s Queens homegirl and quintessential corner office executive. She is your daily dose of Claire Huxtable with a side of Blanche Devereaux.

Kishshana is CEO of Kishshana & Co., an organizational development firm focused on helping everyday leaders live well and lead well. Her firm’s work centers on equity and social justice and practical solutions for today’s organizations. She is the founder of The Rooted Collaborative — a global community focused on the growth and development of women leaders of color in the social sector. She’s the host of the podcast “Let’s Take This Offline”, an adjunct professor at Baruch College, a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer (CGT), A Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, a Q3LC Certified Coach and an AFP Master Trainer. When an organization wants to grow, find and retain people on their team, raise money, and more she is the fairy godmother they have on speed dial. Her work isn’t limited to organizations, she also coaches high-performing leaders.

Contact Kishshana Palmer