What Kind of Relationships Are You Building?

As advancement professionals, we’ve heard the complaints from our organizational colleagues: Fundraiser turnover. Competing priorities. Restrictive policies.

And, we know the results of these complaints: Hesitation to meet with advancement. Lack of participation in the fundraising process. Unwillingness to follow policy.

Ultimately, outstanding philanthropic success cannot be achieved without strong organizational relationships, and every member of the advancement team has the responsibility to build those relationships on behalf of the larger advancement enterprise, not a specific team or function.

How could these simple techniques to build holistic relationships boost both your credibility as a professional and your results?

  • Use inclusive language. Consider how you represent yourself and your team when you say, “I will work with our writer in donor relations to create a photo book” versus “I’ll create a photo book to steward our donor.”
  • Expand your organizational relationships. Bring colleagues to internal meetings and making strategic introductions at events, sharing how your coworker’s function boosts your work. (How often do various members of the advancement function meet with academic partners individually, rather than as a coordinated team?)
  • Celebrate as a team. When announcing a win, acknowledge everyone’s role in the process. Send internal thank you notes. Recognize diverse contributions (in and out of advancement). Share wins along the way, building a culture of recognition. Include everyone involved in celebratory bagels or happy hours.
  • Display a united front. Organizational partners will inevitably be displeased about an advancement policy or decision. This is a critical time to explain and contextualize decisions or policies of the advancement team. That doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge real challenges, but it does require displaying and accepting nuance.
  • Share your donor strategies. Many of our best donors and prospects have multiple relationships across the organization, especially at a university. By showing your colleagues the larger strategy, they’ll have a greater appreciation of a donor’s touch points and interests.

Think about the donor relationships you can create when everyone in your organization is pulling in the same direction, and whether you’re a part of building that culture.

KDD Philanthropy can help your organization strengthen its culture, build tools and expand partnerships throughout the organization. Contact us today about how we can help your team achieve even greater success.