While completing a major stewardship mailing last week, I recalled that I needed to document the production process for this mailing (one that I first introduced last year to provide an annual report of sorts to all of our donors).
As someone who is a tireless cheerleader for the fundraising profession, I know firsthand why it is important to document these processes and assure continuity for our organizations.
Institutional memory is a critical part of the foundation of all organizations, but especially for non-profits and most especially for the development office in non-profit organizations. When this memory is lost through staff turnover, the organization’s fundraising message can get muddled, relationships that were being actively managed can be squandered and overall fundraising efforts can become stalled indefinitely.
Smooth transitions among fundraising staff can significantly reduce the amount of time that a new staffer needs to get up to speed with the usual workings of an organization. In my current role, I have been the beneficiary of well-documented work processes and it has made all the difference, especially when it came to executing major mailings and reports for the first time. In addition to documenting processes, I have found it helpful to remain available for your successor (ideally in situations where you have left your position amicably) as he/she begins to pick up where you left things. After leaving a past position, I willingly responded to queries from my successor for months and did so out of respect for the organization and my contributions to that fundraising program; now everyone is not as over the top as I am and I don’t expect them to be, but these realities of transitions are rarely discussed.
I sincerely believe that it is a vital part of our duty to our organizations as fundraising professionals to do all that we can to assure that they can go on in the future without us; I believe that the best way to assure this is to leave a clear record of how things were done in the past.
How are you documenting your work in your current position? Have you benefited from your predecessors documenting their work processes?