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A Quick Guide To Building Stronger Teams and Relationships

Monday, March 4, 2019  
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A Quick Guide To Building Stronger Teams and Relationships


It may already be March, but as all of us in the Fund Development field know, the planning never stops, and we ALWAYS need more time! Recently, the chapter focused its luncheon educational session on time management, and it got me thinking about the lessons I’ve learned along the way that have helped me in my first DOD role.


First and foremost, I have learned the importance of building strong relationships and trust with your team, the board, and other staff. There are several ways I do this with my own team, and it truly makes us so much more productive and efficient.


The primary way I manage my time is communicate and ask questions. I have found that when I barrel ahead and then have to backtrack, I create so much more work for myself and my team. When I was newer to fundraising, I thought I needed to have all the answers; asking for input was hard for me, and I wanted to just make decisions and stop asking everyone for permission all the time. Experience has taught me that asking questions, treating everyone as an expert in their area, and really listening has not only saved me time in the long run, but it has helped me earn the trust of my team and Board and work with them more efficiently.


Another way is with the implementation of timelines and the use of a job spreadsheet to assign tasks. Holiday initiative? Timeline. Special event fundraiser? Timeline. Capital campaign? Timeline (plus a consultant to keep us on track). And, as people who have worked with me before know, I do everything well ahead of schedule. I’m so blessed that my two employees work the exact same way and are extremely communicative. They update me and ask questions regularly with barely any prompting. In turn, that helps my ED and Board trust me to get it all done.


Another time saver: I don’t micromanage and no one micromanages me. My grant writer/database manager has been here 3 years and has the system down to a science. I just let her do her thing. I’ve given my new-to-fundraising Events Manager/Volunteer Coordinator all the tools she needs to succeed and she is great at asking questions. Our team meets with the ED on Fridays to go over what we accomplished during the week and what the next week looks like according to our timelines and appointment calendars. We discuss priorities and new ideas at that time. Sometimes we schedule one-on-ones but only as needed.


Something that helped me cultivate team trust and doesn’t cost a lot is to take a task or two off my employee’s plate (I learned this from a former boss!) It doesn’t have to be big – maybe it’s a quick phone call they are dreading or an email they can’t get to, but it means the world to them that I am willing to jump in and help. And later, they are more eager to take on tasks because they know you would do it yourself if needed.


It always helps to have a great team and a great board (easy, right?), but no matter your situation, I truly believe that building strong relationships and trust with your team and others in your organization can help make your work much more efficient and productive.




About The Author



Liz Bear, CFRE

Development Director



Liz Bear has been a fundraiser for over eight years. She  is the Development Director at Vita Living, an organization serving over 400 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Liz has a Masters in English from the University of Oklahoma and earned her CFRE in 2016. She lives in Cypress with her husband and dogs.

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