Advancement Services, Information Services, the database folks: whatever you call them, the partnership between fundraisers and this team is crucial. Make or break. Critical.
Usually, this group includes prospect research, gift processing, and those that do the demographic updates. Sometimes it includes those that maintain your website and other tech resources. These professionals create the reports and files that drive the work of fundraisers. These professionals go out and get the information you need to succeed. If you trust them, you trust the data you see in the database. If you trust them, you know they will take care of your donor’s gifts just as you would.
I’ve seen great partnerships between the development staff and advancement services. I’ve also seen departmental relationships which could best be characterized as Shakespearean (meaning you aren’t sure how many people might be dead before the meeting is over). Would you place a bet on which shop raised money more easily? Which group had a better time at work?
It’s a strange thing. The more successful a fundraiser is (in any area of development) the more work it is for these staffers. You need them to be fully invested in your success, despite the fact that they will end up doing more work.
Reach out to these folks. Start by making an effort to fully understand their policies and processes. Show an interest in how they want you to request things and why. Bring back useful information that enriches the database. You make the first move by being a truly valuable partner. Make them love working with and for you.
Then be a friend. Acknowledge when you are making more work for them. Bring them cupcakes after you past milestones or significant deadlines. The effort you put into making this departmental relationship into a true partnership will be worth it. I promise.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.