Being born and raised ninety miles west of Chicago, I am a Chicago Cubs fan. Each year I have high hopes of seeing my team appear and, yes, win a World Series, but by this time of year I start hoping for miracles. In a couple months I will say, as my fellow Cubs fanatics, “Maybe next year.”
Something that makes me crazy when I watch my team play is when the pitcher tries to “paint the corner” of the plate and walks multiple batters on the opposing team. The pitcher takes on the responsibility of doing all the work himself in hopes of striking the other side out, and usually this results in their opponent scoring multiple runs. If the pitcher would just throw the ball right over the plate, the ball will get hit to one of the fielders and the ball will be caught or thrown to first base for an out. The pitcher will throw fewer pitches and will last longer in the game. If the pitcher lets his team mates do their job, he and the team will win more games.
Nonprofit fundraising needs to work on the same principle. Development departments need to act as a team. The Director needs to allow his/her team to do what they are meant to do, and not try to do all things himself. The Director needs to be able to trust that the Grant Writer can and will research funders and their requirements, and tailor the request for funding appropriately. The Director needs to let the Coordinator enter the donor information in the data base after each contact with a donor, and write the personalized donor acknowledgements. The Director needs to let the Events Manager make the plans for the fundraising events, whether it is a house party or a gala dinner. When the Director lets his/her team do their jobs, then the Director can be more effective building relationships with donors and encouraging the Board to open more doors to potential donors. The Development Director does not have to take on all the jobs on his/her own.
Even a one person Development office has a team to help them succeed. There is an Executive Director, a Board of Directors, and other volunteers who can help make things happen. The Executive Director can help by keeping in contact with existing donors and reaching out to businesses for support by attending networking events at the local Chamber of Commerce. The Board of Directors can help by talking to their friends and business associates about the mission of the organization, opening doors to potential donors. Volunteers can help with the administrative duties like data entry, answering phones, writing letters, or setting up for the big event. Together, they can make things happen.
The Development Director cannot and should not try to do it all. When the Development Director tries to do it all them self, mistakes will be made, or the individual will burn out from over work and stress. Trust your team to do their jobs guide them when needed, cross train them so they can assist their team mates, and you will find more success in your fundraising endeavors.