Team work and effective communication are essential components in ensuring that we reach our fundraising goals as well as our friendraising goals. A major gift that is received of say $1 million is not the work of just a major gift officer or the president of the foundation. It is through the collaborative effort of everyone in the development department.
I have spoken before about assuming. If we assume that based on someone’s title that they may not have some great advice or great information on a prospect is really a disservice to the organization. That development assistant is has been involved with the organization for 15 years can be one of your best assets. I also have seen firsthand how the morale of the entire team increases by making everyone apprised and feeling a part of the fundraising effort. It is not uncommon at smaller non-profits that this is indeed the case but as organizations grow they will at times weed out certain individuals based on job title. We have to pull up the silos and become a team. I remember the days of prospect research vs. major gifts. So much energy was spent on this when working as a team brings you greater results and allows you to be more productive. Acknowledging the efforts of everyone who went in to help secure that large gift can only bring the team closer together. I know when I was a prospect researcher I wanted to make my major gift officers feel as if they were adjunct prospect researchers by the information they bring back from their meetings. By keeping the lines of communication open between the needs of research and needs of the frontline officer made the experience productive and enjoyable.
Along with this comes effective communication not only internally with the team but with our donors and prospects. Springing last minute information does not created ease. It can produce anxiety and concern. If there talks about changing how things are currently being handled that this needs to be thoughtfully discussed in a meeting with all those that are involved. I have been on the receiving end where an outside party has come in to speak with the team and then we are hit with either a new process or goals that are going to take place. I know that I then spend the rest of the time more engaged in how am I going to do this vs. spending the time listening to this outside party providing us with great information and ideas. We all need to be mindful of ensuring that our communication with our donors is not all about asking for money but balancing it with here is what has transpired and how the organization is making strides. This is crucial to all donors and not just those at the major donor level. How can you transition effectively those donors walking the tightrope between being a high-end annual gift donor to a major gift donor if we don’t give them incentives and the necessary information to increase their giving. The minute I start to feel like all I am is a checkbook to a non-profit organization then my continued involvement will begin to decrease and another organization will get that major gift.
*Michael Quevli is consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.