When you begin the planning process for a fundraising initiative, it is critical to bring others onto your team. By including others in the process, you will be more efficient, have a broader reach, and ultimately bring in more donors and dollars to your cause.

Whether you are planning a small crowdfunding project or large Giving Day, these 5 team elements will help drive the success of your project.  

#1 Recruit Those with a Similar Vision

When recruiting and building your fundraising team, remember that those with a similar vision will work best together. Connect your prospects to the end product of the mission — do they see what you see?

Commonalities bring people together; find those who are passionate about the same final product. People will commit themselves to their passion.

It can be easy to bring someone onto your team whose job description includes this task, but think bigger. If you have a student intern on the team that is only there because their supervisor asked them to participate, can you expect them to feel passionate about the project?

Find people who are invested in the outcome of the initiative.

This can include volunteers, past participants, or people who have benefitted from the project you are supporting. These people have direct experience with the result of the program or a similar one, so will be the most likely to be invested and drive the project forward.

Steve Jobs was considered unconventional when he began recruiting on this basis of passion, now look at his successes. Jobs said it eloquently,

we wanted people that were insanely great at what they did but were not necessarily those seasoned professionals.

Take risks on the people you believe in; allow that passion within them to drive your efforts. Everyone should be a plank holder on a team.

#2 People Support What They Create

Always provide an avenue of input for those you are leading.

Not only do the ideas grow off of one another to become better, but people find passion in what they create. You inhibit an individual’s initiative and ownership of a situation when you give them the “this is how it’s going to be.” Allow the creative juices to flow between individuals and yourself, none of us know everything.

Being a significant part of the process inspires.

Get input before making decisions. Or, better yet, allow input to be a normal and habitual thing in the workplace. When problems arise, instead of laying out a plan for the team, ask them how things can get solved. Empowering people to be problem solvers on their own gives them the confidence you need them to have when you aren’t there.

Delegate roles on the fundraising team to help increase buy-in for your members.

Is someone on your team passionate about writing? Provide them the opportunity to create the written pitch. A feeling of ownership in the mission will keep your team enthusiastic and determined. Make sure you don’t just assign tasks, but provide clear expectations and empower your team to make decisions. 

#3 Invest in The Team First, The Mission Second

Investing in your team means investing in your mission. The mission follows the team; if the team is working well, then the mission will be fulfilled. Like a well-oiled car, you’ll get to your destination if everything is operating as it should.

It is instinctual to want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, so make work an opportunity to do that.

Help connect your team with the overall mission.

What will their work achieve? Will their efforts create a new scholarship for low-income students? Will they allow a research lab to have more equipment? Just like you want to frame the impact to donors about what their dollar will do, making the connection for the project team will help them stay motivated throughout the process. They are the ones making this possible.

#4 Be a Coach, Not a Boss

People appreciate support.

People rarely walk into work knowing how to complete every task at hand without guidance. When spearheading a team, you should be the guidance someone needs, whenever they need.

Strive to understand each individual’s strengths and weaknesses on your fundraising team.

Work becomes a lot more enjoyable for people if they can do the tasks they enjoy or what they can do best. Foster their failures and celebrate their successes — in a team, they are everyone’s failures and successes.

Take the time to truly get to know your team, get a sense of what motivates them. No matter your position title, be their cheerleader. You should positively encourage the work you wish to see.

#5 Seek Out Evaluation

Constructive criticism is a positive thing and should be sought after by a high performing team. Evaluation allows us an opportunity to see where we can improve and what great things we already do. Do not make this process a punishing one.

Evaluate with TLC; it’s a balancing act.

Set expectations high enough that they stretch people outside of their comfort zone, but not so high that they are discouraged and defeated.

At the same time, do not set the bar too low – the result will be a low performance. People will meet the expectations you set for them.

Unfortunately, this is not a one size fits all situation. Every person has different capabilities, attitudes, and personal goals they wish to achieve. Expectations should be set on an individual basis.

Encourage each member of your team to set tangible goals with timelines. There is a significant difference between “do outreach” and “reach out to 15 people this week to ask them to support the initiative”.

By creating concrete action items, team members will be accountable for their contributions.

A great way to set goals is to make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.