The Importance of Managing Internal Relationships

Sure, it’s the development officer’s job to build strong relationships. We spend much of our time focused on bonding with donors, funders, and others. But that’s only half of the challenge. Rapport with colleagues can be just as important—and just as rewarding. The points noted below can help you stay successful, even under difficult conditions.

1. Stay positive.  Remember, you are a friendly associate, genuine and authentic, but staff none the less.  Gossiping, negativity or other unprofessional conduct will undermine your efforts. So will over-sharing on social media.

2. Be professional.  Absolutely control those things you can like showing up on time and keeping the budget in order.  You build trust through executing sound management practices every day.  Much of our success depends on the voluntary and unpredictable actions of others so it is essential to maintain professionalism.

3. Manage expectations. This is done through careful planning and “casual” case discussions with your president and board.  Constantly reinforce the principles and dynamics of the major gift process and how goals are set and met.  Through rehearsals and coaching, minimize the personal risk to your internal solicitation partner and be transparent and accountable in your reporting of results.  No conversation with a leader is ever really casual and should be seen as an opportunity to reinforce their perception of your values, ethics, and practices.

4. Do your homework. It’s essential to know the organization that you are representing to donors. It will also earn the respect of your colleagues whose work you are representing. Knowledge is essential; passion has even greater rewards, as colleagues and volunteers notice your enthusiasm they’re more likely to join your cause.

5. Listen.  Often, the ability to hear what’s being said is even more important than your ability to express yourself.  When you are fully attentive, your audience will feel appreciated.  It will enable you to get to the core of any issue in a way that offers the best opportunity for positive results.

These internal management techniques will help build trust with leaders, co-workers and volunteers.  You’ll increase the likelihood of success, and you’ll find the process more rewarding.