This has become a buzzword lately, and for good reason.
We are becoming more and more specialized in the workforce, and in most cases being a generalist doesn’t cut it. That’s why those who specialize, like in the planned giving world, have stronger careers than fundraisers who seesaw between annual and major gifts while also answering the phone, writing brochure copy and website content and sweeping the floor.
Collaboration draws upon individuals’ unique skill sets to achieve a common goal among a group. But for specialization to work, teaming up (aka, collaboration) with others who have complementary skills is critical. And I am happy to see that’s becoming the norm in philanthropy.
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
The first ingredient to successful collaboration is leaving out your ego. The second is shedding the fear of getting involved. How often have you heard someone say, “You know, in that meeting I was about to speak up about XYZ issue, but …”
Of course, the latter also requires a team leader who can successfully motivate the group. When it comes to building a strong fundraising team at your nonprofit, you need a leader who is a listener as much as a doer… someone who will leave his ego at the door, roll her up sleeves, and lead by example.
Collaboration is Tough (But Worth it for Your Fundraising Team!)
There are personality conflicts; a tendency to avoid difficult conversations; a propensity to stick with the vanilla (being overly formal and polite because you’re scared of hurting feelings, for instance). Some people just do not understand leadership. Building trust is another issue.
But in the end, with consistent work and over time, any effort toward a collaborative team is better than none. The main ingredients are a clear purpose, the development of trust, and having the right people in the right positions.
And, of course, making sure you leave the wrong people out. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it, because the fundraising team you have in place will make all the difference for your organization’s development program.
Oh … almost forgot. Happy Giving 2022. We’re getting close … !