Basketball fans—and even people who don’t regularly follow college hoops—love to watch the Cinderella stories unfold during March Madness. At many of our organizations, legends are made when these student athletes achieve far more than we had believed was possible. While chance can certainly account for some of the unexpected wins and losses of the tournament, good luck isn’t enough by itself to lead a team to the championship. Winning teams need winning strategies.

In development work, we would do well to remember the words of golf great Gary Player, who said, “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” Like an athlete before a big competition, taking the time to prepare maximizes the likelihood of success.

A winning fundraising strategy will include many components, but one key element is often overlooked: a strong, interactive development team. Work with donors requires collaboration among development professionals, subject matter experts, organizational leaders, volunteers, and others. It is essential to keep all members of the team informed, involved, and on the same page. While the task of coordinating these various individuals is certainly challenging, it also promises great rewards for your organization, and for the donors you serve, as you strive together toward your common goals.

How can this team build an effective and efficient winning strategy?

These tools can help you get started:

Donor Development Chart

What questions are donors asking as they consider making contributions? How can each team member help the donor get “yes” answers to these questions and advance in his or her commitment? Use the Donor Development Chart to assess donor commitment and plan ways to move forward.

Nine Navigation Points

How will the team learn about this donor’s family dynamics? How will you uncover tipping points that may influence the donor’s philanthropy? Use the Navigation Points to determine what you know so far, and what you still need to learn, before you’ll be ready to make an ask.

With a unified team, you’ll have more than luck—you’ll have the means of building a winning strategy for creating a meaningful experience for donors and significant contributions for your organization.

More Information on Professional Development