Tell us how your business works with the nonprofit sector.
My work is always focused on helping the nonprofit client become better able to achieve understanding, acceptance, appreciation, and supports so that the organization can reach towards its mission — from building development programs to capital campaigns. This has cause me to make recommendations based on what I know works and, at times, to create new programs or approaches to help the organization. The challenge is to get to know the nonprofit — its history, culture, etc. — so that the changes that must be made are presented in a way that leadership can accept. Timing is also important. Counsel given too soon can be rejected. In particular, critical advice that challenges the organization culture must be carefully and skillfully delivered.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I have been truly blessed to be able to earn a living and live a life working with the special people who dedicate their lives to serving others. Many of these folks have become good friends and have enriched my life beyond consulting engagements. I look forward to each new engagement, speech, and workshop.
Whatever I have been able to accomplish is being played out by the nonprofits with which I have worked — as they are better able to server, are more secure in funding, and have strengthened their leadership. Then my contributions, whatever they may have been, may be considered accomplishments. Writing a book that has been well-received by colleagues has been extremely satisfying as well.
What is a major challenge you have faced and how have you handled it?
The major challenge I have faced is running a consulting business in a universe of others trying to do the same thing. However, some lessons I’ve learned include:
- Never be surprised at being surprised
- No organization is any better than its board wants it to be
- Our profession is about marketing to facilitate fundraising, yet we continue to focus on the end results rather than the process to get us there.
How does your work empower individuals, advance organizations and strengthen community?
My work and success is rooted in the philosophy and goal of DeWitt & Associates:
- To deepen the body of knowledge and strengthen the capacity of nonprofit leaders
- To ensure that our nonprofit partner becomes stronger and better able to serve its mission, its goals, and its clients.
We have always approached our consulting from an educational perspective. We are teachers who, while providing solutions to development issues, work to empower the people who serve the organization.
Brydon DeWitt is a development professional with over 40 years of experience. He has taught courses for VCU and the University of Richmond. He is also the author of The Nonprofit Development Companion, A Workbook for Fundraising Success — released by John Wiley & Sons as part of the AFP fund development series.