4 ways fundraising managers can successfully lead their teams

the fundraiser image

4 ways fundraising managers can successfully lead their teams

4 ways fundraising managers can successfully lead their teams

How can natural leadership help draw out your fundraising teams’ potential? Sarah Carter sets out her top tips for leading fundraising teams


One of the biggest mistakes we can make as leaders of fundraising teams is to focus on the number of donors we need, rather than the route to getting those donors. And, of course, central to that is the support, development and leadership of our fundraisers. When we focus on our teams, we see the results in the fundraising conversations we have and the donors that we recruit.

So as leaders, what do we need to bring to our teams to get the best from them?


A Unifying Centre.


At HOME Fundraising we ask our leaders to be the Unifying Centre for their team. The term is borrowed from the world of psychotherapy where the therapist is seen as a Unifying Centre for their client. Not that we expect our managers to be therapists, or indeed for their team members to be in crisis; far from it. But we do ask our managers to be the stable, reliable, supporting centre of the group where their ripple effect is felt throughout the circle.

So what do you need to do to be the Unifying Centre for your team?


1.     Think circles rather than triangles  


Encourage and practice leadership not from an elevated position at the top but rather from the centre, as an active part of the team where the leader models ‘doing’ rather than ‘telling.’ When habits, behaviours, values and attitudes are modelled positively by a Unifying Centre, people are inspired, motivated and engaged to perpetuate those same positive behaviours and attitudes throughout the team. They buy into the leader and the organisation. They want to stick with it. And, of course, this is then reflected in the conversations fundraisers have with donors.


2.     Be real  


Don’t try and model some idea of what you think a great leader should be. It won’t last, it won’t have any impact and it won’t be honest or authentic. People respond to leaders who do, people that they want to work with and listen to, leaders that have a clear sense of purpose and leaders that don’t game play or manipulate. Natural leaders.


3.     Be aware of your impact  


The leader sets the tone for their team. Essentially the group character becomes a reflection of the leader’s character. Understand that you’re constantly modelling both good and bad habits and behaviours, both consciously and unconsciously, to those around you. The Unifying Centre recognises the role they have to play in the group dynamic, in the relationships they have with everyone around them, in influencing other people’s buy-in and passion, in caring about the outcomes, in recognising what behaviours they’re modelling and how the decisions they’re making fit into the bigger picture. If you notice that there’s something missing in your team, first ask yourself what you’re not bringing to the group. Learn to recognise your patterns of behaviour, what triggers you have and how these might impact positively or negatively on your team.


4.     Be present


Whether you’re motivating your team, talking to a potential donor, in a client meeting or doing the washing up, if you’re more present in the moment you’re more connected to what you’re doing; you set the conditions for success, for your outcomes and the outcomes of your team. Explore the concept of Mindfulness in your work environment, and how this can help give your fundraisers better results.


Sarah Carter is Head of Leadership at HOME Fundraising. She has over 20 years’ experience in training and communications. Follow her at @sarahleadership

Get the latest fundraising advice and insight

the fundraiser cover Sign me up