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INSIGHTS AND BEST PRACTICES IN DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES
Interactive discussion recap
By Cynthia Ray, AFP contributor
On July 19th at Lighthouse International, the Professional Advancement Committee produced an insightful panel on Best Practices in Development Departments. Moderated by Ira Madin, Professionals for Nonprofits, panelists included: Tricia Balsamini, Continuum Health Partners; Joy Cooper, Theatre Development Fund; Michael Feinman, Jewish National Fund; and Lucretia Gilbert, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. ==========================================================
On the heels of a new fiscal year, with both staffing successes and challenges in mind, our panelists were poised to share valuable insights and best practices with the audience.
When making the case for adding and structuring staff, your CEO and COO need to be convinced of how the organization seeks to raise money. Look at what a fundraising position has brought in based on past-year goals. As more money has to be raised, you can make a stronger case for hiring more experienced fundraisers with track records that warrant appropriate titles and competitive salaries. Keep in mind, too, that beyond recruiting talent, your department should put in place policies that support the retention and promotion of entry-level staff as an important component of its structuring strategy.
If you’re planning to restructure your team, first think about this: Is your nonprofit a siloed environment? How seamlessly does the overall organization currently support its frontline fundraisers and, specifically, how do administrative roles support their efforts? Development department structuring works well when overlap leads to collaboration. Human capital auditing can be an effective tool to assess how much fundraising one person actually can do with or without the burden of added administrative tasks. For example, when major gifts staff has been liberated from managerial functions, and is focused only on asking and prospecting their portfolio of potential donors, panelists reported that this particular best practice led to more successful outcomes over time.
How you can help make your volunteers more effective fundraising ambassadors: View and relate to board members as well as the various committee members/advisors as valuable skills-based resources for the organization. Manage their expectations; keep them focused and empower their ability to do asks as well as execute their own activities.
What to consider while managing, motivating and investing your human resources: If you’re addressing the effects of turnover in your development office, take a good look at the organizational culture. Are you promoting a culture of loyalty by treating people and their contributions to the development team’s goals equitably? How is appreciation and recognition expressed? Does staff at all levels have access to the executive director or CEO? Referring to your team collectively, giving recognition regularly, celebrating team accomplishments, and offering opportunities for input can help them feel more valued.