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Take a look at your fundraising team. Is the right “chemistry” in place?

Before you answer that question, let’s define “fundraising team.”

Fundraising is all about relationships. Since relationships are built by everyone that touches your organization in any way – including volunteers, board members, mission recipients, event sponsors, event attendees, vendors, staff, friends of staff and board and others – your team consists of all of the above!

So is your team poised for success?

Here are four questions you should ask to evaluate your fundraising team’s chemistry:

1) Is Your Board of Directors 100% In?

This is absolutely where the team chemistry must start. Your board chooses the executive director (the head of fundraising), who then hires the rest of the fundraising staff!

If the proper mindset is not in place as those hires are being made, do you think focusing on the vast importance of relationship-building and fundraising will happen?

If those values are not part of the equation, the chances of everyone buying in to what is needed for fundraising chemistry and making the little things happen daily are slim.

100% in means 100% participation in personal donations, legacy giving, and most importantly leading by example with the mindset of outreach and relationship-building.

Bottom line: the mission and the funding success are near and dear to every board member’s individual heart and soul!

2) Is Your Executive Director the Unofficial Leader of Fundraising?

Every single major donor and legacy donor will want (insist!) to interact with either a board member or your executive director! If your ED has little or no desire to be involved in fundraising, and therefore relationship-building, your chances of success have just been reduced drastically.

We see this time after time with nonprofits struggling to achieve fundraising success.

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If the ED is not leading the charge for major gift fundraising and legacy giving, as much as 88% of your funding may be at risk! According to the latest FEP data, 88% of funding comes from just 12% of the donors. This is the 12% where the executive director can and should have the most impact.

So, the key second question remains: is the executive director the unofficial leader of fundraising at your organization?

3) Does Your Official Head of Fundraising Fill Their Calendar with Appointments with Donors and Prospects?

Time after time, the most successful fundraising organizations make relationship-building the highest priority.

We already explored the board and the executive director being part of this above. An additional key component, which often is the catalyst for the others, is the head of fundraising leading the charge in securing appointments with prospects and donors.

A quick look at the head of fundraising calendar should reveal nearly every breakfast and lunch spot filled with prospects and donors as well as numerous other appointments throughout each day with them. They can be telephone appointments, as well as face-to-face meetings, depending on the geographic reach of your world of donors.

This person and their direct report staff are often the ones setting up such face-to-face appointments and calls for others. The desire and eagerness to accept those appointments, as well as setting them on their own, is a big factor in the fundraising team chemistry being the best it can be.

4) Does the Entire Staff Embrace Customer Service and Relationship-Building?

If you are like me, you can tell when an organization is totally devoted to customer service and the building of close relationships from the first minute you interact with them. You can just feel the difference!

Fundraising team chemistry does not move to its highest level without this customer service mindset. It does not matter whether it is an employee in the organization or someone acting in a volunteer capacity; they must exude this feeling of warmth and helpfulness at every turn.

This behavior may not seem that important, but it often makes all the difference in obtaining that first gift or, more importantly, defining whether or not the second gift arrives from any donor! Obtaining the second gift is one of most significant factors in donor retention.  Note the immense difference in retention rates from donors making one gift to those making a second gift below:

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If you can answer this fourth question with a resounding yes, my bet is you have the right answers to all four questions.

Summary: Does Your Fundraising Team Chemistry Have Your Organization “Breaking Bad” or “Moving Upward?”

A positive answer to all four questions should spell success in so many aspects for your organization. Certainly fundraising will be one of them, but keep in mind the effect on other key areas like morale, employee retention and mission achievement. Perhaps, best of all, so much internal strife will be eliminated as everyone works toward the same goals in a similar manner!

Can you think of any other key questions we can ask regarding fundraising team chemistry? If so, please leave them in the comment area below.

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Stay Together - How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.