Development (or fundraising) is a relationship business – you’ve heard this before and probably even spoken it yourself. Although this is certainly true, when people say it, they are usually referring to outward-facing, external relationships. In other words, the relationships your organization has with your donors.
But INTERNAL connections matter just as much, and sometimes more.
Let’s say you are welcoming a new staff member to your development team. What is the most important thing you can do during the onboarding process? Answer: Help them build internal relationships.
Why? Because development is a team sport. It never gets done by a single person, or even a single team.
Development is a team sport
Think about the different sources you draw on to make fundraising happen successfully at your organization:
- The program staff who help write grant reports, lead site visits, and share client stories with you;
- The finance person who gets you daily information on donations received so you can thank and steward donors in a timely way;
- The communications person who helps you with year-end campaign messaging;
- The executive assistant who carves out time on your CEO’s calendar when you finally land that major donor meeting;
- The board member who introduces you to her contact at a local foundation.
Right now, before she does anything else, your new staff member must start building connections with these folks. Ideally, stronger connections than the ones you already have.
And you can help! Introduce her around, go out to lunch or drinks with key people, invite her to meetings, set her up with projects that get her collaborating with the right folks.
It’s not glamorous. Internal relationships aren’t glitzy or dramatic. They will rarely make it onto the agenda of your Board of Directors’ meeting. But they are the grease that allows the wheels of development to turn. Neglect them, and your productivity will grind to a halt. Nurture them, and you’ll have more fun and get more done!
What are your tips for building internal relationships? What advice do you have for your fellow fundraisers? Please share your thoughts, tips and advice in the Comments box below!
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