Redskins Rodgers Talks Non-Profit Development
Jane Rodgers is the executive director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation. She spoke to our Sales & Development class about non-profit management and development. CSL graduate student Wes Chappell provides a recap of Jane’s message.
Jane emphasized the importance of the Mission serving as a driver and focal point in non-profit/foundation work. The mission is key to driving programs, fundraising, the message, and volunteer leadership in the Redskins Charitable Foundation. The mission of this organization keeps them focused on their program silos – reading programs, health and wellness, and feeding families – which Jane mentioned is difficult to do. Having a mission also allows you to create goals and objectives, and allows you to measure your success based on how well you achieve those objectives.
Jane also emphasized focusing on “sacred cows” in the organization, in this case, the programs which have the most traction, get the best response from the community, and are most well-known, but not settling on doing the same thing over and over. She talked about the role SWOT analysis and reviewing these programs play in improving them, and in turn making their organization stronger and more successful. By focusing on the sacred cows, and improving them, you’re creating a competitive advantage by improving what you do best and creating a culture and identity around your organization.
Jane also talked a lot about transparency. For foundations like the Redskins Charitable Foundation, it’s important that your stakeholders (sponsors, donors, community partners, etc) are in tune with the foundation, aware of what they are doing, and where money is going. It not only adds to the legitimacy of the work by the foundation, but also makes the stakeholders feel more comfortable with their involvement, creates trust, and allows for the opportunity for them to provide feedback that will ultimately help move the organization forward. For example, the Redskins’ foundation has an Education Advisory Board, consisting of leaders in education around the DC/Maryland/Virginia metro area, that provides a channel for feedback and suggestions to improve the education programs, such as the Redskins Read Playbook and Redskins FITT programs that have become extremely successful through the collaboration with stakeholders and community leaders.
The most important message I pulled from Jane Rodgers’ talk was that it’s important to understand how the true business side of community relations and foundations work. There needs to be a focus on sales and marketing, creating a consistent and improving stream of revenues. She mentioned that she has to say “no” to many ideas because they won’t be good for the business of the non-profit. They won’t embark on new programs simply because of the good image that they will give the Redskins organization for being involved in the community, as this only creates a façade. They want to establish programs that not only make a measurable impact in the community, and help improve the lives of children and families in the DC area, but also will be sustainable, and generate revenue for the foundation for a prolonged period of time. Jane’s focus on creating a sustainable and successful business model within the foundation drew a parallel to the need for being well-versed in sales and marketing. Jane indeed confirmed Pink’s message that everyone is in sales, even within the foundation/development area, as they are constantly selling – whether it’s soliciting donations, signing deals with community partners/sponsors, or convincing the community to participate in their programs.
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