stepsSix weeks.
This is how long some people like you have been working remotely from your home for the first time. For many, this hasn’t been easy. By now, it’s been well documented how juggling working from home has taken its toll, with all the distractions that are added to your life.
For many managers who lead a team of fundraisers, it’s also been challenging. You have a responsibility not only to manage and care for your people; you also have the administrative responsibility to report in to leadership and handle the complexities of how to re-budget, staff and deal with organizational issues in this crisis.
As a manager, you are the bridge between your front-line fundraisers and leadership. Not an easy task.
We’d like to give you some suggestions on how you can lead your team remotely through this crisis; and we’ll throw in some fun ideas for you that your colleagues around the country have sent in to us about how they’re trying to build up their teams in a very difficult situation.

  1. Consistent communication with leadership — As a manager, hopefully you’re meeting on a regular (if not daily) basis with leadership so you’re up to date with all the information you need to pass to your downline. This is especially important now, as you’re the conduit of information to your staff, and they’re looking to you to know what’s happening with your organization.
  2. Daily communication with your staff — With everyone off-site, we recommend that you hold a “daily briefing” with your staff. Some managers are doing this first thing every morning; others are doing it at noon, because mornings can be tough with some folks with kids and other responsibilities. This can be a 15-minute meeting just updating your staff, sharing news, and giving highlights from what donors are telling you, etc.
  3. Continue your regular one-on-one management meetings with individual staff members — With the mid and major gift officers we work with, we hold regular 30- to 45-minute weekly meetings. Especially now that everyone is off-site, remaining consistent with your regular management meetings with your staff is critically important. This allows you to help provide strategy on specific donors, encouragement and help so your staff can focus on the right things.
  4. Inspiration — Your staff may not ask for it, but they desire inspiration from you as a manager. In your daily briefing, try to find something to give your staff encouragement and hope during this crisis. In your weekly one-on-one meetings, allow yourself to be vulnerable, which will help your folks to be open with you if they’re struggling.
  5. Team building — Don’t forget that even though everyone is at home, there are still fun ways to build teamwork and bring people together. Here are a number of ideas that managers have written in to share with us, about what they’ve been doing with their teams during this crisis:
    “My team and I have been using Marco Polo to video chat each day. It’s been a lot of fun. A great mix of business and humor.”“I sent my staff a $20 Grubhub certificate so they can order from a local restaurant that supports us.”
    “We did a virtual movie afternoon. I delivered movie treats to all their homes, and then at a scheduled time we watched a movie together!”
    “I sent postcards with a picture of our office building and a tagline, “missing you” to every member of our staff. I wrote a personal note on it as well encouraging them.”
    “We did a Zoom laptop lip-sync performance of “Lean on Me” with our pets and my inflatable “Packer Tackle Buddy” for charity.”
    “Caring for staff: We did a small Covid bonus to all staff. We provided work from home tools and equipment. HR calls for 20 minutes to check in. Donut — new app on Slack. Encouragement cards that were signed by Exec. Team and mailed to staff. Zoom Happy hours.”

I hope these give you some good ideas for how to manage your team virtually during this crisis. Your leadership is needed now, more than ever. Thank you for all you’re doing to bring your staff together.