Small shop development teams and start-ups are quite similar; little money and lots of passion. Everyone must be willing to take on multiple roles, sacrifice some perks, and learn to work efficiently. Small shops and start-ups understand the value that their people bring to the table to fulfill a common mission. However, it’s important to remember that while a great mission brings people together, it’s the donors who move the mission forward.
The biggest challenge of small shop fundraising is, most commonly, limited funding. All nonprofits run tight ships when it comes to budgets, but small shops even more so. When a development team is made up of one or a few people it can be tricky ensuring that all aspects of fundraising are covered.
The staff is required to wear multiple hats:
- Event planners
- Grant writers
- Donor relations
- Social media managers
- And more
This thin spread makes it difficult to map out growth plans as long-term plans tend to fall by the wayside because day-to-day tasks pile up so quickly. In addition to daily tasks, the development team must develop and maintain relationships among the board, volunteers, and donors.
While the responsibility of relationships is large, a smaller team means closer, more personal, connections between all constituents. This also puts everyone in the position to be a strategic thinker. When the shop is small, no task is too big or too small for anyone to participate in, no matter what your title is. Wearing multiple hats and being involved in multiple aspects of the organization provides hands-on learning and makes for more well-rounded professionals. Projects move along at a quicker pace when there are fewer hoops to jump through.
How to Succeed
It’s beneficial to have everyone working together, but it can also impact productivity. In order to succeed as a small shop fundraising team, you must not lose sight of major gift work and PLAN! Set achievable short-term and long-term goals. If you’re not sure where to begin start by breaking your day into manageable time chunks: admin, learning (webinars, reading, podcasts, conferences, etc.), donor relations, volunteers, event planning, projects, etc. Additionally, develop a go-to “fire extinguisher” plan that you can implement when a problem arises that needs to be handled immediately. This is especially beneficial if fires are a common occurrence, which takes away a lot of time from other tasks.