Fundraising: A Team Sport

I was honored to co-host the April #ynpchat — an amazing Twitter chat for young non-profit professionals — with the chat’s dynamic duo of Allison Jones & Rosetta Thurman (full disclosure: both of them inspired me to join Twitter and to start this blog) on the topic of fundraising.

One of the big topics that we covered was making sure that all non-profit staff play a role in and have a basic understanding of fundraising.  I was particularly impressed that we all agreed about the importance of including the entire staff in these efforts.

One key question that we focused on was: What are some challenges in getting non-profit staff involved in fundraising?

Interesting responses included:
@ajlovesya: Making the idea of fundraising accessible. Also I find that many people do fundraise but dont call it that
@NickSava: Message has to come from the top (i.e. Exec. Dir.) that fundraising is everyone’s job. Need org. culture of communication
@IanMAdair: They feel overworked providing direct services and usually feel fundraising is someone else’s job.

Another key question was: What resources/strategies are helpful in getting non-profit staff to participate in fundraising?

Some great responses that we got included:
@NickSava: You have to help out program staff in their activities. I scratch your back….
@DonorSnap: it helps to create a culture where fundraising is the norm for staff
@NonProfit_Meg: Make sure staff understand how fundraising directly benefits their program/department. People want to know what’s in it for them
@dan_blakemore: It’s also about showing staff that they don’t have to make an ask. They can serve as event hosts or greeters, share their story & passion for the work, make thank you calls, etc.

The central point is that you must demonstrate how everyone’s involvement will only strengthen your organization and help them realize that they are already organizational ambassadors (whether consciously or unconsciously).

How do you engage your colleagues in your organization’s fundraising efforts?  Have these colleagues been receptive to this role?

If you are on Twitter and have not participated in the monthly #ynpchat, you are missing out!  Please don’t let the “young” moniker fool you, it’s a great opportunity to engage with a diverse group of non-profit professionals on interesting topics.  Chats usually happen on the first Wednesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. EST and I hope you will join in.

Did you join in last month’s chat?  You should be sure to read Sarah Pierce’s guest post that arose out of a side conversation we had during the chat.

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8 Replies to “Fundraising: A Team Sport”

  1. Thanks, Dan, for the recap of the latest #ynpchat.

    At my nonprofit, every staff member (and board member!) has fundraising listed as a responsibility in their job description. It’s been an incredible opportunity for me to coach and support non-fundraisers in their efforts to cultivate support for our nonprofit.

    Your comments are on point – staffers, whether they know it or not, are representatives of the nonprofit. The question is, are we acting like it? Keep up the good work!

    1. Jessica,

      It’s good to hear that your organization has the right idea about making fundraising a vital part of it’s culture.

      I would love to hear more about your experiences coaching and supporting your non-fundraising colleagues (maybe a guest post?).

      Thanks for the support!

  2. Thanks Dan – I missed the chat but appreciate the recap and the team approach! Internal education is key. All staff don’t need to ‘know their salary relies on it’ but be motivated to care and have the tools to help!

  3. Dan – I’ve always believed that! The “frontline” staff (nurses, educators, volunteers) are always more exciting for donors and prospects to meet – they tell authentic stories. For me, fundraisers/development staff are the vessels. Framing this around “storytelling” rather than fundraising can ease the fear that some colleagues experience. Great round-up of comments!

  4. Dan:

    Thanks for the post and for the shout-outs! I like how Allison said that some people are fundraising but don’t call it that. Some of my colleagues are not technically fundraisers (they work on the “program” side) and they don’t have any interest. However, they are actually great fundraisers because they interact with our volunteers and others on the front lines with respect, enthusiasm, etc, thus making it easier for the fundraising department to find potential donors and advocates. Fundraising is truly a team sport, and I want Dan Blakemore on my team!!

    1. Nick and Beth,

      Your comments are particularly timely for me, as last night’s Gala drove home your points. After getting through the on-site logistics and set-up, I was able to spend the cocktail hour connecting residents with donors and guests, as they are much better at sharing our work than I could ever be. It was a win-win, as the residents want to meet and network with these important people who support our mission and the donors want to hear what their contributions are supporting. Many thanks to you both for chiming in!

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