Skip Navigation
Print Share

Re-cap of March 27, 2017 Advanced Forum

March 27, 2017 - AFP-GLAC

Advanced Executive Forum


Rhea Turteltaub - UCLA


On March 27, 2017, Randy Shulman, VP for Advancement at The Huntington hosted an intimate and insightful conversation with Rhea Turteltaub, UCLA Vice Chancellor, External Affairs. The topic was generative leadership as it relates to hiring, developing and retaining fundraising staff, and both Rhea and Randy shared their experience and perspective on how to address these challenges.  A few of the take-away messages shared:


  • In Rhea’s mind, “generative” leadership is the concept of “paying it forward,” building on what has come before, and this includes thoughtful succession planning to ensure continuity.


  • UCLA has a Strategic Talent Management Office dedicated to recruiting and retaining quality employees, and UCLA’s average employee tenure is significantly longer than the national average, partly because of this commitment.  Not all organizations have the resources for a separate department, but we all can and should pay attention to talent management.


  • Good talent management is analogous to how we engage donors and move them along the pipeline: there’s Identification (“you need to be curious, understand their personal lives,”), Qualification (“discover their interests/talents”), Cultivation and Solicitation (“seat them appropriately, in the right job”), and Stewardship (provide ongoing mentorship and feedback). 


  • It’s important to create an environment of collaboration around the donor: At UCLA, no one development officer “owns” a prospect. It can often take 3-4 years to land larger gifts, and that requires a team approach.


  • Mission: staff must be wedded to a fulfilling mission that resonates with them, or they won’t stay. Organizations usually have more than a single “entry point” – at UCLA, for example, donors are not just alumni – some are fans of UCLA Athletics, patients at the Medical Center, students at UCLA Extension, patrons of the arts, etc. So, there are many ways to engage.


  • Money and title are important, but far more important for the generative leader is to ensure staff engagement with the mission.


  • Find creative ways of giving recognition to staff members who perform: give additional responsibility along with compensation to keep staff engaged long-term.  UCLA often gives unused space on donor trips to fundraisers as both a reward and opportunity for staff and donors to engage in a different setting.


  • Rhea holds regular meetings to discuss “hot topics;” everyone has to report, and if you don’t have anything new to share, you’re going to feel motivated to pick things up.


  • Essential characteristics of a good development professional:
    • Humility
    • Selflessness
    • Resilience
    • Curiosity
    • Respect for the mission
    • Passion and
    • A team player


  • Metrics used by UCLA for evaluating development staff performance:
    • Dollars raised
    • Being a team player
    • Number of proposals submitted and success rate of proposals
    • Managerial effectiveness (for individuals in managerial positions)
    • Institutional service – involvement with other committees or other engagements on campus.


  • Rather than see your career as a “ladder,” Rhea suggests viewing it as a “career spiral” that may take some time to develop before progress continues upward. Flexibility, patience and commitment will be rewarded.


For more on this, be sure to attend the Advanced Executive Forum in August, featuring an in-depth discussion with a panel of nonprofit leaders on challenges to implementing generative leadership and how to overcome them.