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The Power of Unity: Fundraising Teams

A guest blog by Sally Collins.

Fundraising projects, and their success or failure, often depend on the ability of the team to function as a coherent unit.  The dynamics of a successful team can be complex, but tend to revolve around communication and well-defined team roles. This is where lessons can be learned from other areas of the business world: the team building activity or day can be extremely useful when it comes to fostering a spirit of togetherness in a fundraising team.

Team Building Days

Many people may roll their eyes at this, and imagine some excruciating adult version of a failed school trip, but there is a reason that many extremely successful companies make use of team building days, and that is because when they are done well they can produce some genuinely superb results for your team.  Many of the team building cynics probably imagine activities full of forced leadership analogies and ham-fisted ‘lessons’ encased in some grotesque parody of fun, and these types of team away days do exist, but successful ones eschew that approach in favour of a much simpler one: get your team to come together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

Communication

One of the fundamental benefits of a team building day is communication, or rather, improved communication between team members.  Many of the best team building activities involve something that is both genuinely fun and requires some element of problem solving.  Let’s take, for example, the idea of the Crystal Maze, the live action version of the beloved 90s TV show.  Clearly the tasks involved have nothing whatsoever to do with fundraising, but they do require the team to come together, support each other and communicate – indeed, some of the tasks can only be completed by communicating clearly and accurately under pressure.  Furthermore, they are also hugely enjoyable.

The benefits that come from something like this are actually quantifiable; a team that communicates better, particularly when under time-pressure, will be a team that can achieve more, whatever the task they are set.  Good communication and supportiveness within a team are transferable skills.  Of course, if your team building day involves an activity requiring physicality, then it’s important that you, as the organiser, are prepared and have taken all necessary and reasonable precautions to prevent injury; accidents happen, but make sure one doesn’t occur due to negligence.

Team Roles

Another way that a team building day can positively impact your fundraising team or project is via the development and clarification of team roles.  A fun activity, seemingly completely unrelated to anything to do with your business or fundraising team, is actually a great way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team.

A successful and high-functioning fundraising team requires a range of varying skills, and different people are stronger at certain tasks: some people may be great at taking the initiative, others at delegating tasks, others at quality control.  Being able to accurately assess the strengths of your team means that you will be able to deploy your team with maximum effectiveness, and if your team are fundraisers, then that equates to more money for whichever cause or institution you are working for.

Fundraising is a tough business.  It is also vital, worthwhile and rewarding, but it is tough and it is business.  Bearing this in mind, there are many lessons from the business world that can be translated into a fundraising team or project, and that can be used to improve morale, performance and, ultimately, increase the amount of money that your team can raise.

Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.

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