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Are you a team of One or do you supervise a department or a whole organization?

When planning my monthly newsletters and weekly About Fundraising webinars for 2022, I decided to organize everything around monthly themes. The theme for January is Teams. Each Thursday at noon, CST, on About Fundraising, I will talk about one of these aspects of Teams: vTeam of One, vBuilding Your Team, vCoaches, and vBe the Coach.

Team of One

If you work for a small nonprofit organization, then, most likely, you are it. You are the development department and the fundraising team. You are expected to write the grants, plan the events, cultivate the donors, and, of course, meet the fundraising goals to keep the agency doors open. You are the hub of the agency.

There are three things that must be addressed if you are going to be successful as a team of one:

  • Expectations. If your E.D. or C.D.O. has set unrealistic goals for you, then say so. Talk about what is expected. Ask them to help prioritize.
  • Compensation Is your salary, benefits, and vacation time enough to not only keep you at your nonprofit, but also inspire you to do your best work? Is the organization’s leadership investing in you? If the answer is “no” or “not really” then, again, talk with your boss.
  • Inclusion. You cannot work in a silo, nor do you need to attend every meeting, but you can set the standard for sharing and requesting information in a timely manner.

Building Your Team

There is much to be learned when you are building your own team from scratch. I had the opportunity to build a major gifts team to cover five counties. Even though the positions were advertised, I did my own recruiting. Looking back, one of the best things I did was learning about what the candidates had to offer, not just whether they met the requirements on the job description.

Once the team was in place, we had to learn to work together. I had to guide, not stifle; listen, not just give orders; and advocate for my team when they were under fire.


One of the services I offer as a consultant is coaching. How I wish I had had a coach back in the day. There are just some things you cannot talk about with your boss or colleagues. I believe everyone can benefit from coaching, from having a confident, someone who will listen without judgement. A coach should also guide and advise. A coach may or may not have experience specific to your profession, but they should have a keen grasp of human nature, office politics, and communications skills.

Be the Coach

I strongly believe in professional development. I also strongly believe it is the responsibility of every boss, manager, and supervisor to advocate for and support professional development for their team. Whether you have a budget for professional development or not, you can still support your team by coaching them one-on-one and in a group. Using the free content available on the internet and from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, you can organize internal seminars for your team.

Join me every Thursday at noon, CST, for About Fundraising and learn more about Teams during the month of January.

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