Last week’s column focused on building a fundraising team. This week we provide suggestions for creating an empowered fundraising team. The key word is empowered. Here’s the best definition of an empowered fundraising team that we have heard “allowing good people to do what they are best at.” That’s from Dr. Ned Doffoney, former president of Fresno City College. Using this philosophy his team raised the first $1 million of a $4 million campaign goal.

Here are a few suggestions. First, let your fundraising chair set the agenda for your fundraising leadership team meetings. Your chair is your leader. You don’t want staff crafting an agenda and passing it off to the chair right before the meeting. That is a red flag. An empowered team uses information provided by leadership as an input. The team’s goal is to figure out how to secure the resources and funding the organization needs.

We suggest an agenda that begins with the commitments each person made at the last meeting. All team members should be prepared to report on their commitments and to provide an update on their area of responsibility. Each should report quantitatively: how much was raised since the last meeting? How many new prospects were identified? How many solicitations resulted in a gift or a decline? Each should also report qualitatively: What is working? Where are the challenges? What does he or she need from fellow team members or staff?

Here are some general qualities to strive for as you build a fundraising team: A sense of urgency. Commitment. Expertise. Connections. Transparency. Knowledge. Flexibility. Focus. Planning.

You want to create a culture of accountability where members feel they are accountable to their team members and the organization as a whole. They understand and have bought into the organization’s fundraising goals as individuals and collectively as a team. They come up with alternatives – in advance – to make sure that goals can be achieved even if the original plan looks like it might run into challenges.

All members should be resourceful. But resourcefulness isn’t always monetary. Resources include their professional skills as well as connections: people they know who can help make things happen. You want a team where thoughts and ideas are freely exchanged and valued; creativity is appreciated; and the team itself is empowered to make decisions, set goals and policy.

Bringing representatives of your staff, board members and volunteers together to create a fundraising leadership team is a risk. Take another risk and be open, transparent, accountable, and let your team members set goals and direction.

For more fundraising and nonprofit management suggestions visit When you are ready to work with fundraising counsel call us at (901) 522-8727.