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May 15, 2019
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Fundraising: Questions to Consider
May 29, 2019

A Seat at the Table

Last week, Leslie attended a graduation ceremony for development professionals. There’s so much promise in this next generation of fundraisers!

If you manage a development office, there are lots of ways for you to support and nurture the growth of the up and comers on your team.

You can provide funding for professional development. You can model outstanding fundraising practices. You can make sure your team has realistic goals and objectives. You can hold them accountable – guiding them when things don’t go right and celebrating their successes.

But, of all the things you do as a manager, I think one of the most important is quite simple – to give members of your team a seat at the table.

By that, I simply mean that you listen to them. Hear their ideas. Help them take on a more strategic role whenever possible.

Hidden talents can often be overlooked.

For example, grant writers are often assumed to be content to sit behind their desks and crank out proposals and reports. But grant writers often have a really high-level understanding of an organization. They get the big picture. They understand better than most where the organization is excelling and where it’s falling short.

Consider volunteer managers. As on-the-ground ambassadors for your organization, they are in a position to test messages in real time. To understand how people view the organization and to see which engagement strategies work and which don’t carry water.

When was the last time you asked your grant writer or volunteer manager for their opinion on a big, strategic issue?  

Or your prospect researcher? Or your events coordinator?

All of them have unique perspectives, relationships, and skills that can be brought to bear well beyond their defined job function.

When was the last time you pulled your entire team together to address a problem or issue you’ve been struggling with?

Of course, as the head of the team, it’s ultimately your job to make decisions. But you will only benefit by bringing your people closer to you and giving them a chance to grow while also opening your mind to fresh ideas.

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