The "Development" Team

Get up from your desk and walk around the building. How many Development people do you see? Three? Five? Twenty? Wrong. Everybody in your building is in Development.

Yes, everybody. Of course you know that. Your management, membership and underwriting teams know that. How about the rest of the staff?

While there are firewalls between journalists/producers and corporate donors, the very existence of staff that creates value for the audience means that, indirectly, those staff members are also in Development.

Audience development is fundraising development. Social media, digital, and so-called ‘public-powered journalism’ efforts are fundraising. Receptionists, administrative, accounting and engineers are fundraisers. Every interaction is a chance to create a new data point which has the potential of reaching the ‘tipping point’ to giving.

Every thing?
Even a physical plant is a potential fundraiser. I observed one station where everything was neat and tidy, including a series of signature chairs near cubicles that faced a certain direction. If the chairs became somewhat askew, the executive director would turn them in the right direction. It’s a beautiful place, and visitors (whether they are donors or not) are shown a work environment that matches the high level of media produced to serve the community. Those things matter.

When everyone feels like a member of Development all year long, a couple of things happen: ideas will come to you from all corners of the organization, interest in all fundraising activities and reporting (beyond cyclical Pledge) goes up, and the symbiotic relationship between revenue generation and content creation (aka the ‘virtuous cycle’) is better understood.

Some ideas on how to increase awareness of how we’re all in the Development business:
1. Hold a ‘brown bag’ learning lunch: provide quarterly metrics associated with content and fundraising. If your station subscribes to Nielsen ratings, it’s a perfect time to make the content-revenue connection. If not, celebrate programming achievements, new hires, and update staff on new trends in media.

2. Ask everyone on staff to participate in the Annual Fund Campaign by giving at least one dollar to the station. Explain the profound story that the station can tell a donor or foundation when, for instance, 80% of the staff voluntarily gives money to support their own mission. Their participation will inspire philanthropic giving from the community, which will then be invested in their mission. Report successes.

3. Solicit fundraising ideas company-wide and give credit where credit is due when an idea is adopted.

4. Ask members of the staff to interview each other about their activities at the station to increase understanding of colleagues’ expertise and professional story.

Do you have any additional techniques you employ to involved everyone on staff in Development?

Barry NelsonComment