How long ago has it been since you last talked to anyone who is running programs in your organization? When did you last have lunch with the manager of your annual fund or direct-response program? Do you and your communications director meet regularly to discuss how you can be more effective together? How often do you meet with someone in planned giving to discuss how you could be more effective with your major gift portfolio?
When I ask these questions of major gift officers, more often than not, I get a blank stare.
Many years ago I worked at a direct-response fundraising agency that was divided up into departments. We had account services, creative, traffic, production, finance, HR, etc. We physically all sat in our own departments. What happened is that we just stopped interacting with each other.
That led to suspicion, like “what are those Creatives doing?” Or “those account people just don’t understand how long it takes to write a good fundraising letter.” Or, “finance doesn’t get how hard we work to get our paper costs down.”
Eventually, it was our clients who were suffering. It started to take longer and longer (and more money) to actually get a fund appeal out the door.
So we did something radically different. We started working in teams, instead of departments. We had client service people sitting next to graphic artists, and production people next to finance.
Cool stuff started to happen. Suspicion stopped. People started talking to one another. There was more empathy and understanding of each other’s jobs. And the work got better and faster (and cheaper). What once took months, now took weeks. This led to more joy and fulfillment in the work.
Now, I’m not saying everything became perfect. But when employees started understanding each other’s jobs and they were in dialogue with each other, everyone started working together as a team. There became a real spirit of cooperation and wanting to help each other out.
Richard and I are constantly amazed how different departments in non-profit organizations rarely talk to one another. Sometimes we want to shout, “Hey, if you just talked to those folks in planned giving or who run your direct-response program, you’d be much more effective.”
So instead of shouting, we wrote a white paper called “We All Need Each Other.” It focuses on how you can be better in your work if you open up your palms and allow others in your organization to understand what you do. When you do that, they will do it with you in turn.
The end result is that you will serve your major donors much better, the donors will give more, and YOU will be happier.
I really urge you to request this white paper. It could end up being the best thing you’ve done all year to best serve your donors.