This list was first presented with Kevin Flynn, Commongood Careers, as a part of the 2015 Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Conference.

  1. Respect the Craft: A strong development professional is bringing skills, knowledge and expertise to the table. Always try to understand and learn from it, even when it goes against your instincts and comfort zone.

 

  1. You Can’t Cook Thanksgiving Dinner in a Microwave: Don’t underestimate the time and effort that goes into engaging donors at every stage of the donor cycle. Artificial and unrealistic timelines lead to cutting corners, decreasing engagement and losing donors.

 

  1. Invest in Architecture: Behind every good development director is a set of good systems and reports. Beyond an initial investment to create them, organizations need to spend time and money maintaining and using them effectively.

 

  1. Fundraising is a Full-Organization Function. When development and program are disconnected, both suffer. Find big and small ways to break down silos within your organization.

 

  1. Evaluate the Function First: When fundraising isn’t going well, look at function as a whole, then the team, then individual players. Changing an individual doesn’t always repair a break at the structural or organizational level.

 

  1. Break Out of Crisis Mode: No one does their best work in a crisis. You wouldn’t let any other function at your org operate in constant anxiety. Break out of the crisis / burn out cycle (or risk losing your top performers).

 

  1. Everyone Can Fundraise: People of every skill set and personality-type can meaningfully contribute to fundraising success- not just the extrovert, sales person, gala-event-charmer. A strong culture of development is inclusive and matches team members strengths to the right responsibilities.

 

  1. Stop Waiting for the Rainmaker: You know, the one with the rolodex who can effortlessly raise millions so the rest of the team can rest easy? S/he isn’t walking through the door. The organization is the rainmaker. Hire the right coach to get there.

 

  1. Open the Windows: Don’t be afraid to get neutral, outside support to get your team working in a more functional way.

 

  1. Expect (and Celebrate) the Disruption: Changing a culture is challenging and disruptive to any environment. You may lose people along the way. Help everyone anticipate the challenges AND envision the result.

What tips would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments!

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