In the world of workplace jargon, it’s hard to think of a term that simultaneously attracts both derision and respect more than “best practices.” To best practice followers, the term conjures images of systematic processes and proven results. To deriders, it feels stifling and decidedly uncreative.

In my time as a both a fundraiser and a consultant, I have had the opportunity to work with some strong professionals advocating for important causes…and who were hampered by a lack of institutional processes and systems. However, without memorialized knowledge and procedures (aka best practices), these colleagues have lacked some of the most fundamental tools they need to be successful.

We take such great care to ensure donor updates and strategies are in our databases, and yet only the most disciplined shops are taking the time to get practices, nuances and cultural pieces in writing. The exercise of capturing such things in writing forces us to think thoughtfully through details and impact, and allows us to share these values consistently with colleagues. Every time we document and share, we re-enforce culture, provide direction and make our programs stronger.

Think about how documenting and sharing best practices like these listed below would support your team doing its best work:

  • Established tools for partnering with administrative staff in a way that consistently allows frontline-facing fundraisers to stay focused on the frontline.
  • An onboarding document that explains the team culture, and how to approach first meetings with new colleagues.
  • Documented expectations for qualification prospect meetings, including whether and how to make a solicitation in a first meeting.

What do best practices like these have in common? They have core principles that apply to fundraising everywhere, and can be amended to fit the precise needs of your institution. And, they require focus to create and adhere to. How would that discipline and consistency benefit your efforts and teams?

To build the skills that will help you develop your own best practices, join me for Fundraising Essentials Bootcamp on March 2.

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