[Reposted with permissions. Originally posted by BWF Insight on November 7, 2016; written by Bond Lammey.]

From many years of working in prospect development with a variety of different types of organisations ranging from conservation to higher education to social services organisations, I have identified a relationship management policy as one of the most important aspects to creating a well-oiled and functioning development department. Relationship management policies have three key benefits for an organisation.

3 Benefits of a Relationship Management Policy

  • Cooperative Collaboration. Similar to the way a state’s driving manual helps new drivers learn the rules of the road, a relationship management policy creates the “rules of the road” in fundraising. Once implemented, it isn’t something that needs to be read weekly or monthly, but it is helpful to have for training new staff and as a reference when needed. Organisation-wide, the policy will establish specific roles and expectations for fundraisers. It promotes collaboration while demonstrating organisational values and culture.
  • Conflict Resolution. A relationship management policy identifies standard operating procedures regarding adding and removing prospects from portfolios, getting approval when needed prior to making a solicitation, and contacting with a prospect who is currently assigned but has not been contacted recently. Formal guidelines on how to handle constituents solidifies organisational commitment to honouring donor intent.
  • Confidentiality and Ethics. In order to protect your organization, department, and donors, you need a written confidentiality and ethics statement that outlines rules related to storing data and sharing information among internal partners and external volunteers.

When outlining your policy, consider including the following elements:

  • Guiding Principles
  • Definitions
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Portfolio Management
  • Proposal Management
  • Prospect Assignment/Reassignment
  • Disqualification/Inactivation
  • Metrics
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Policy Maintenance

Developing or significantly revising a policy should not be undertaken without the backing of leadership. Once the support of leadership has been secured, convene a task force to review your policy draft. The task force should include leadership, a frontline officer who is a champion of your work, a frontline officer who does not frequently work with prospect development, and select other operations team members.

For a smooth roll-out, the task force should create a department-wide implementation schedule including the objective in this exercise, a timeline summary for the roll-out, and related parties that are impacted by each step.

Here are some questions you will want to consider:

  • How does this policy address existing organisational needs?
  • What is the best way to involve leadership in implementation?
  • Who will take accountability for the overall implementation plan and regular policy updates?
  • What processes are already in place that will need to be modified?
  • Will all staff easily understand the policy?

As we all know, new policies are not always simply accepted or immediately put into practice. Consider the following approaches to market the new policy to your department:

  • Promote early adopter testimonials.
  • Offer virtual trainings.
  • Schedule check-ins/office hours.

The most important aspect of a successful implementation is comprehensive, accessible, and ongoing training. During trainings make sure to define roles and responsibilities, show how the policy fits in the big picture, stick to the basics, repeat important points, and repeat trainings as often as needed.

Yearly reviews and modifications are important to the success of the policy. Seek feedback from fundraisers, prospect development, and operations. Ask pointed questions about whether it meets business needs and creates efficiencies. Finally, actually listen and use their feedback.

Good luck exploring the next step in developing or enhancing your relationship management policy. I can’t wait to hear how it turns out!


Article reposted with permissions from Bentz, Whaley Flessner. Originally posted by BWF Insight on November 7, 2016 in Prospect Development; written by Bond Lammey. This post is also available with APRA Metro DC.