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Fundraising Tip — Spend Time with Your Program Teams

Being in great relationship with those doing the mission work in your organization strengthens your fundraising efforts and donor relationship building.

In my earliest days of nonprofit fundraising I learned that the more time I spent with those doing the actual mission work of my nonprofit, the stronger I was as a fundraiser for that nonprofit.

It makes sense. When I meet with a donor, sure they may think I’m a great person, but they really want to know more about the people doing the actual work, the work they have decided to support by making, and continuing to make, donations.

In my time of leading nonprofit fundraising teams, spending time with those in the program work, getting to know them, asking them all sorts of questions about thier work, means that I know even more about the nonprofit and the impacts we have.

One of my favorite stories about being in relationship with those in programs is what was said to me during my first week at a new job as director of development. I went to a program team meeting and had wonderful conversations with the team. I instantly felt so much stronger in being able to talk about the organization on a deeper level.

After the meeting the program manger of this particular team walked me out and told me that I just spent more time with their team in that one meeting than the past couple of development heads during their entire time at the organization.

The time I spent with them and their team changed me, allowed me to learn so much about mission challenges, and was the foundation for relationships that would be wonderful for the entire time I worked at this organization. All of this with just one meeting during my first week!

It’s taken me a few paragraphs to get to the actual fundraising tip, so here you go: Build relationships with those in programs at your nonprofit.

As I write this my head is filled with memories of the dozens of program staff I have worked with, learned with, grown with, at nonprofits I have worked for in my past.

All of the time I spent with program teams was well worth it, and gave me the opportunity to learn in ways I had never imagined.

This has also led me to the statement that surprises some in my field: Fundraising is not the most difficult work in nonprofits. Those working in programs, sevring those we serve, doing the work of the nonprofit; that is the most difficult work in nonprofits.

When you’re finished with this article, set up time with someone in programs at your organization. You’ll be happy you did!

If you liked this post, check out this one, titled “People are still donating”:

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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