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Building Teams Around Purpose, Not People

Turnover in the Advancement world is common. It makes sense. Often the biggest impact that an Advancement professional can make is early in their tenure when they implement changes that are new to the community, but proven strategies for them. Moreover, each year the expectations increase and sustaining these expectations can feel overwhelming. Often there are more accolades and more money to be gained in another role, somewhere else. On the flip side, leaders often find themselves frustrated with their Advancement staff because the clear vision they have is not being met. But approaching this dilemma with a "it's cheaper to keep her" attitude is not a recipe for long term success. Turnover is inevitable. So how should organizations prepare themselves for regular change on their Advancement teams? One strategy is to build teams with roles that can weather turnover and maintain momentum through change. Rather than deciding roles and titles based on tenure, personalities and short term priorities, teams built with clear objectives, responsibilities from an articulated vision are not reliant on a particular individual. This does not mean that people stay in a box, it means that intention and care is regularly given to the performance of the overall shop. It also means that planning and goals are key to allowing everyone's efforts to be used to their best uses.


An example to demonstrate the point. Your goals: grow participation by 20%, increase giving by 30% and get your annual report out two months earlier this year. Too specific and tactical? Steward major donors to increase satisfaction and retention, improve money spent per dollar earned, launch your first major campaign.

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