Fund development programs span a wide range of activities and competencies. As advances in areas such as technology, data analytics, business intelligence, and market research continue to drive increasing sophistication in the fundraising sphere, it becomes increasingly difficult, yet important, to coordinate and integrate the various players and activities.

As individual staff members become specialized in one unit or another within fund development teams (research, fundraising, marketing and communications, or information services), they can become distanced or even disconnected from the bigger picture. This leads to a lack of understanding of the expertise and value other units and personnel bring to the table. Less understanding, and less connectivity, means fewer opportunities for teamwork, resulting in less synergy and creativity.

While sophistication and specialization are both admirable and necessary as programs grow, it is wise to be mindful of some of the hazards they can portend. Good leaders will be aware of how to maintain a sense of team and teamwork as the organization grows and will manage the changes in a positive and healthy manner.

6 Ways to Build an Integrated Team

The following are six ways development leaders can build and maintain effective, integrated teams. Enacting these principles within fund development teams will provide organizations more success and stability, and staff more satisfaction, opportunities for creativity and professional and personal growth.

  1. Recognize the continued need for cross functional teams and workgroups
    As development departments become more specialized, it is important for leadership to. provide members of all units the opportunity to learn about other specialized development functions and to forge relationships with those working in different areas. Building relationships -- and trust -- with other members of the broader department leads to increased cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives. Creative and outside-the-box ideas and solutions will result.
     
  2. Create and provide shared goals for all units
    This reminds all units within the development department the reminder they are an important piece of the whole working toward a common good. Each unit within the department should always be aware of the way in which they connect to the whole. One of the clearest forms of communication leadership can use is the goals and objectives they set forth.
     
  3. Acknowledge and include all units in celebrations of success
    This is an outward acknowledgement of the value contributed by each unit. For example, while major gifts brought in the $1MM gift, Information Services correctly captured their information, prospect research quantified the potential, and marketing engaged the prospect before fundraising ever became involved. Development is a team sport, and celebrating the wins together builds a winning team.
     
  4. Provide development personnel with internal and external educational opportunities
    This creates situations where personnel need to understand tangential aspects of their jobs, and create greater understanding of colleagues’ roles. Increased understanding leads to better communication and more “sticky” relationships within the department.  Individuals will value the opportunities for professional growth, and may also feel more content within their working environment.
     
  5. Encourage personnel to try different development roles
    Creating opportunities for movement between units can lead to increased job satisfaction.  Open lines of communication, cross-educational opportunities, cross-training and mentorships all contribute to a culture of openness and transparency that will breed loyalty and longevity.
     
  6. Meet conflicts head on and resolve them appropriately
    Leaders who shy away from conflict will find that they are inhibiting growth and creativity. By not recognizing the value of differences of opinion and unique ways of thinking, they are quashing opportunities for innovation. Leaders should value conflict as a healthy way to explore problems and challenges in a deeper way and to encourage creative and collaborative outcomes.

Building a collaborative and cohesive development team may seem like a daunting task, but with enough effort, you can guide your organization towards stability and success. For more information about development strategies, register for our webinar with Sierra Club: A Wealth of Data: Major Donor Fundraising & Data-Driven Segmentation.

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