How much time do you actually spend at the water cooler? I’m going to make the case for spending just a little bit more time there.
Internal relationships are often the key to fundraising success. If you have the support of your fellow fundraisers and program staff your job will often become a lot easier. Sometimes work gets really busy and you have to put your head down and work hard, and that’s fine. But in the off times and when you need a breather I encourage you to build relationships with your co-workers. I’m not talking about hanging out after work only knowing enough that you can really ask how their week is going.
When you have built a solid relationship with your co-workers it is easier for you to get things done when it gets stressful again. People give you a break when they know you better. I find sometimes we will talk about ideas we have and get updates on donors. There are a lot of things we forget to share with each other until we are in the middle of a conversation and it becomes relevant.
A pet peeve of mine is when a development office spends all their time talking about donors and none of their time talking to donors. Has your organization ever fallen victim to this trap?
It is important that you do the needed research and you ask in the right timing. And it is also a good idea to gain input from those experts at your nonprofit that know how to ask for money and know the donor you are talking with. But do not get caught in the cycle of perpetual preparation.
Development Officers should spend a lot of their time out of the office. These individuals should be grabbing coffee with your major or principal donors. They should talk with them about why they give and call them with updates about the organization. As that relationship grows they better understand how to cultivate and steward these individuals and how to ask them for money.
If you spend a large part of your time actually talking to donors then you do not need to spend quite as much time talking behind closed doors about them. Talking to donors as a practice is much more efficient than only talking about them.