I come from the world of retail where my family had operated a store since 1877. When I entered the field of fundraising I was amazed to find that the final three months is your busiest time just as it was at the store. It was engrained to me to be even more keenly aware of my surroundings during the end of the year.
It is imperative that we acknowledge that every area within development is operating at a very high level. In order to meet the demands of this time of the year we need to communicate on a strategic and thoughtful manner. Keeping in mind that we are not the only ones experiencing this extra push is essential – so patience really is a virtue!
I remember from having been a prospect researcher that the number of research requests was at the very least doubled or tripled compared to other times of the year. For those researchers who are in higher-education institutions we were deluged with not only full-profile requests but for event briefings/bios. The number of events increased significantly. I learned quickly not to assume that everyone in development understood this to be true. Every fall, I would communicate that “turn around time” for research was taking a little longer than usual. Likewise, I was aware and respectful that the gift officers were dealing with extraordinary timelines and goals. Establishing realistic expectations is essential to keeping harmony within the department. We must also keep in mind that our lives personally are most likely operating at a higher intensity with the holidays. Finding that balance between work time and personal life can be a challenge if we don’t plan in advance.
So don’t assume everyone knows you are busy – communicate it in an effective and thoughtful manner. Be willing to give a little extra of your time and energy in ensuring a successful end of the year fundraising goal. Create a calendar of not only your tasks but the timelines of those around you whether it is annual fund, planned giving, major gifts or events. Most importantly find ways to acknowledge each other not just once but numerous times for their support and effort.