The Value of Teamwork

The Value of Teamwork

Have you ever watched a “tag team” event, like a relay race, where teammates take turns engaging in whatever activity is required? Here is another example. As a kid, I remember watching wrestling matches on TV, where two wrestlers would compete against two others. When one member of the “tag team” needed a break, or another “tactic” (or wrestling move) needed to be applied, wrestler 1 would run to the corner of the ring, slap hands with wrestler 2 (his teammate) and the match would continue. Don’t ask me what determined the winner in these tag matches – I am too old to recall that – but it was fun to watch teamwork in action.

So, what does this have to do with development or fundraising in your nonprofit? Allow me to share this recent experience.

I was onsite with a client recently, making capital campaign donor visits. A member of the major gifts committee (I will call him “Bob” for this story) and I were preparing to call on a prospective donor at his place of business. We had a plan. Bob would give opening comments, I would then present the case and make the “ask” and Bob would wrap up with a personal application story before we answered his questions. Well, if you don’t know it already, these visits rarely (ever?) go according to script.

First, Mr. Donor wanted to run down a couple rabbit trails. I graciously steered him back on point. Then, he took a phone call from his daughter half-way through my pitch and he talked for 10 minutes. After hanging up the phone, he apologized and asked, “So, where were we?” To be honest, at that point, I’m not sure I even knew!! We plodded on, got to the ask and then something unexpected happened. As Bob prepared to share the methods of giving to the campaign, he picked up on a couple things – the donor’s age and something he said earlier in the meeting. When Bob mentioned planned giving, Mr. Donor’s ears perked up. He said, “tell me more, the wife and I have been discussing that very thing.” Well, it just happens that Bob works in financial services, knows the language and could correctly steer Mr. Donor in a positive direction. They agreed to meet and talk more in two weeks.

The result? The organization may be on the cusp of receiving a generous charitable remainder trust, potentially much larger than the amount we were prepared to ask him for. The value of teamwork? I had no idea of where to go at the end of the meeting. My teammate, Bob, took my “tag” and finished strong. Afterwards, we discussed how my ability to keep the visit on task was important and his ability to discuss planned giving options was equally vital.

When you make major donor visits, consider going in teams. You will be amazed at the synergy it provides and you never know what your teammate will bring to the meeting.


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