Avoid Isolating Fundraisers and Fund Development

Location, location, location.

I’ll never forget the location of my first office as a development director. It was at the end of a dead-end hallway. No one even passed by. They had to want to come to my office, and that didn’t happen much! The program staff sure wasn’t interested in development. Even the marketing/communications staff avoided us. Geez. Nothing like departmental silos to harm an organization. Nothing like separating fund development from mission and program.

Yet it happens over and over again. Think of that big new college building for development—located in the southernmost corner of campus. No students or faculty every wander by! Or that separate suite of hospital offices with the little kitchen? Development officers eat with each other or with donors, but never with the doctors, nurses and families of patients.

What a shame.

Most nonprofits recognize how critical fund development is to the organization. Nonetheless, fund development is often isolated from other operations. Many staff and volunteers do not understand how intertwined fund development is with the overall organizational system. Sometimes fundraising consultants and development staff choose to stay away from the rest of the institution. Other times, organizations deliberately keep fundraisers at arm’s length from other areas of operation.

How very silly and counter-productive.

What’s it like in your organization? Is fund development welcomed just like your organization’s mission program is? Because without fund development, there may not be much of a mission program. Is your organization integrated with strong interdepartmental links—a “web of connectedness,” as the systems thinkers say? Everyone valuing each function and all employees. Everyone understanding how it all fits together to accomplish the mission.

I hope so.

If not, what are you doing about it? What’s your role in helping everyone—including your boss—understand how to build a strong organization?

Be a leader. Step up. Step out. Bring it all together.