All advancement programs have finite resources, both human and financial. The idea that you can spend whatever you wish to accomplish your goals and aims is not reality. Sure, advancement budgets at some institutions are larger than at others, but there is always a limit. And, over the last few years – regardless of the size – your budget most likely has been reduced or, at best, stayed relatively flat.
In an environment where budgets are tight, the concept of “working large” becomes paramount. Working large doesn’t simply mean “working harder,” or even, “working smarter.” Rather, it means you are “working differently.” And, because of this difference, your program, regardless of resource level, consistently produces extraordinary results.
Here are the 5 characteristics of advancement teams that regularly work large:
- Leaders have an ego for the institution that is bigger than for self. Advancement leaders aren’t seeking personal praise for results. Instead, they are seeking the betterment of the institution, regardless of who gets the credit.
- A culture of collaboration and appreciation. Team members are experts in their functional areas, but they view themselves as part of an integrated whole. Appreciation and celebration of every person on the team occurs regularly.
- Mission-centric. It’s time to end the myth of the goodness of being “donor-centered.” Meaningful missions are what inspire people – donors, volunteers, and, yes, advancement team members – to come together and invest themselves fully. Purposeful storytelling about how your institutional mission changes lives for the better occurs regularly on teams that work large.
- A habit of invitation. Teams that work large invite others with consistency. They invite others to give feedback, invite others to offer advice, invite others to help plan, invite others to share, invite others to attend, invite others to give, invite others to invite others, invite others to extend gratitude, etc. The more habitual it becomes to engage others in the advancement of the institution, the more a team can work large.
- Team reflection and strategic planning. A key step in working large is to recognize that little of consequence gets accomplished by operating in a reactionary mode. Thoughtful plans, while not foolproof, help extinguish daily fires before they arise.
And here’s the yarn that knits these working large attributes together:
Less focus on our own concerns and more focus on others and our meaningful work together.