The relationship between fundraising and management

Learn the top tips for management teams to achieve fundraising success in this case study with Guildhouse.

Top tips for management teams to achieve fundraising success.

Case study with Guildhouse

Tip 1: Be transparent with everyone on your management team about who your funding partners are and how they contribute.

Treat your donors like partners and build it into your ethos.


When you’re a small organisation, almost everything you do is in partnership with other organisations and donors, so clear, respectful, regular and genuine communication about and to them is key.


Fundraising goes beyond the ask and it goes beyond the dollars – your donors and supporters are living and breathing the organisation. Everyone in management should know who is funding your programs and how that funding is being used to deliver on your mission.

Tip 2: Respect each other’s perspectives.

Collaboration is key among managers because everyone comes at fundraising with a different perspective, and all perspectives are valuable.


Some managers will be big picture thinkers, while others will be more pragmatic. Some managers will be close to artists and can share what they’re trying to achieve and what kind of funding they need. Others will be adept at telling the story of your organisation, and have a great understanding of your stakeholder groups and how best to speak to them. Fundraising and development managers will have great relationships with their donors and be able to provide insight into what’s important to them.


Come together regularly as a management team to talk openly about the organisation’s ambition, what programs are coming to the end of their life cycle, where the opportunities are, what the community needs and how you plan to get there.

Tip 3: Build a culture of fundraising performance and values.

In a small team in particular it’s crucial that every manager can advocate for the organisation to potential and existing donors and partners, and understand their role in fundraising.


You are also absolutely reliant on each other, and on everyone performing their role.


Be thoughtful about who you recruit into the team – will they share and contribute to your organisation’s culture? Do they understand the importance of fundraising and building relationships with donors and partners?


Take time to nurture and steward your employees, and give them clear roles and responsibilities. If the relationships within your teams are strong, your donors and partners will see that and feel like they’ve made the right decision.

Tip 4: Take advantage of the many benefits of being in a small organisation, including:

Communication and collaboration –  frequent, off the cuff conversations can reap big rewards, and it’s not a huge stretch to find out what your fellow managers are doing or what their pain points are. Sometimes you work in the same room!


Agility – You can respond quickly to the needs of your community. When opportunities arise, you can grab them.


Shared purpose –  everyone is on the same path, working towards the same objectives and there’s a close connection between your organisation’s strategic goals and what you work on day to day.



5. Appreciate and encourage diverse thinking.

High performing teams have qualities and characteristics that bind them, but they are far from homogenous.


The best teams embrace and capitalise on their diversity, taking opportunities to learn from each other and widen their perspectives.


They understand and celebrate each other’s strengths, skills, talents and quirks.


Recruit people with different backgrounds, experiences and world views – your organisation will be the better for it.

6. Manage conflict constructively.

Transparency is instrumental to building a healthy professional relationship.


Work hard to enable a culture where everyone – management and staff – feels comfortable speaking frankly and honestly with each other.


Equally important is allowing teams to express worries and frustrations without fear of repercussion, and to diffuse tension in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.


Criticism should be constructive and oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles. Conflict is not about proving who’s right and who’s wrong, but about coming to a resolution together.

7. Learn and adapt.

Even the best teams have room to grow. Successful teams take the time to listen. They listen to their donors, patrons and audiences, they listen to their board, they listen to their staff, their volunteers and to other organisations.


They also value feedback and learn from their mistakes. A feedback-oriented organisational culture allows people to give and receive clear, productive, sensitive feedback about any aspect of the organisation.


It can be hard to take time to properly evaluate campaigns and programs, but many of the most successful organisations take a few days each month to focus on data gathering, analysis and evaluation. Collecting and learning from data and research leads to better practices and programs that meet the needs of donors, staff, artists and audiences.


Investing in ongoing employee growth and development is equally important. Identify opportunities that focus on team needs and priorities, as well as individual goals to make them feel motivated, empowered, and better equipped to do their job.