Team-Based Fundraising Step by Step: A Practical Guide to Improving Results Through Teamwork

In Team-Based Fundraising Step by Step, Mim Carlson takes a new look at nonprofit fundraising strategies. In Carlson's holistic view, fundraising is not the sole domain of the development director or executive director, but a strategic activity involving the entire organization.

In many organizations, fundraising already involves teamwork on an informal level: staff members may collaborate to put together a complex grant proposal, or the executive director may canvass the board of directors for possible contacts. Carlson takes this approach a step further and proposes that organizations establish a formal, team-based structure to accomplish their fundraising goals.

To that end, Carlson, a well-known trainer and consultant in nonprofit organizational development, has put together a detailed outline for use in assembling an effective fundraising team. Not surprisingly, the first step in the process may be the hardest to take —— recognizing that your current fundraising methods aren't working and that it's time for a new strategy. Once you've jumped that hurdle, it's on to forming a leadership group that will spearhead the team-building process. Many of the candidates for such a group are obvious: your board chair, your executive director, your development director (if such a position exists), and/or the head of your board's fundraising and/or finance committees. Carlson explains that all these players need to be invested in the team and in a vision of successful fundraising. It's the leadership group members, she adds, who will be "cheerleaders" for the team-building process.

In putting together the rest of the team, Carlson emphasizes the need to undertake a full assessment of board, staff, and non-board volunteers to determine their skills and hidden talents. Among the many useful worksheets scattered throughout the book, the "Fundraising Team Responsibilities Matrix" (pages 29-30) and the "Team Fundraising Skills Survey" (pages 32-33) are especially useful in this phase of your planning.

At a certain point, it becomes critical to demystify the whole process of raising money. Carlson doesn't ignore the fact that some team members may be intimidated by the idea of asking people for money. Not to worry, she says. As long as each team member brings something to the table, the sum will be greater than the parts. Carlson's view of fundraising is broad and includes a variety of activities, including public relations, volunteer recruitment, and special events. In other words, there will be more than enough work for everyone.

Team-Based Fundraising is designed to be used as a workbook, with each chapter ("Creating the Fundraising Team," "Getting the Team Ready," "The Team in Action," Charting Your Progress as a Team") providing detailed information about a step in the process. By providing worksheets and real-life examples of organizations that have successfully implemented the team-building approach, Carlson has given nonprofits a game plan with which they can work. For small nonprofit organizations in particular, this may be the answer for the over-worked executive director or board chairperson.

For citations to more materials on this subject, refer to the Literature of the Nonprofit Sector Online, using the subject heading "Fundraising — handbooks, manuals, etc."