The business term “departmental silos” is by now familiar to all of us, but in development work, the issue of non-collaboration is often more complex. Frequently our priorities are aligned, but collaboration can be hampered by decentralization of fundraisers, computer system issues, lack of communication, limited knowledge about opportunities outside our own units, departmental boundaries, performance metrics, and more. Collaboration often requires strategic maneuvering and planning in order to achieve optimal results.
In the eyes of each of us, our own departments and tasks are unique and separate, but in the eyes of donors, we are all part of the same organization. As representatives of the same organization, our communication and collaboration are essential to meeting our own objectives, the larger objectives of our organization, and most importantly, the objectives of our donors.
Consider the following scenario:
A donor couple attends a fundraising event and is introduced to the development director for athletics. They spend a long time discussing their passion for athletics scholarships, but also mention that they know some student-athletes have learning differences, especially related to reading and dyslexia. The athletics fundraiser recognizes the importance of this and makes a contact in student services to find out what accommodations are available for students with dyslexia, which he doesn’t know much about. His contact in student services finds out about the accommodations and suggests he learn more from someone in the College of Education. His colleague in Education schedules a meeting for them to connect with a faculty member who is an expert in that area.
After learning about the unique challenges and funding opportunities that could assist student-athletes with dyslexia, the athletics fundraiser meets with the donor couple to talk with them about scholarships. He listens carefully to their personal experience with dyslexia and their excitement about helping students with learning differences. He asks if they would share that excitement not only with other potential donors to athletics, but also potential donors to the College of Education’s programs that help teachers understand how best to teach students with dyslexia. He immediately contacts his colleague in donor relations, who follows up, engaging the donors in a video and written testimonial to inspire additional support.
The team members in the scenario above recognized the importance of collaboration. They applied knowledge of their colleagues’ goals and responsibilities, reached out to colleagues with whom they don’t work regularly, and utilized technology to communicate effectively—all in order to meet the donors’ needs.
In the midst of your organization’s unique challenges, we invite you to assess your culture and determine:
- Are we collaborating optimally across departments?
- What are the obstacles that prevent us from collaborating?
- What would the ideal collaborating development office look like?
- What additional tools/help do we need to make this a reality?
To discover how your team can achieve greater philanthropic success through robust collaboration, click below and download a brochure detailing Advancement Resources’ newest product for creating a culture of collaboration.