How to Break Down Silos and Improve Fundraising

We all work in silos. One theme that is consistent in all organizations is that departments often function as separate entities. In reality, all parts of the organization are closely connected! However, it’s easy to forget this when your team is busy focusing on your own “siloed” efforts.

Breaking down these silos is important to the success of a nonprofit organization as a whole and is critical to helping you get the stories you need to raise the money that supports your programs.

How to Break Down Silos and Improve Fundraising

Here are a few ways you can improve your relationships, build better communication, and get stories that “tug at the heartstrings” from your program staff.

Building Relationships

As a nonprofit fundraiser, it is important that you establish relationships with the people that have their feet on the ground.  Focus on what you have in common – you are both part of a powerful mission that is important to everyone that works for your organization and you all work hard to make the world a better place!  Here are a few tips:

  • Be sure to let your program staff know that you appreciate their hard work. Let them know that you will continue to work tirelessly yourself, to raise the funds to support all of their efforts.  Shout your thanks from the rooftops!
  • Employee appreciation events that allow your staff to mingle with other departments are a great place to take time to get to know your program staff. Also, take the time out of your day to walk around and say, “Hi.”  Chat with your colleagues about how their day is going.  It goes much farther than you might think.

Communication Within the Organization

Working to break down silos can be challenging for all employees as they focus on the budgetary goals of their own departments.  Addressing this challenge often needs to start at the top.  Management is an important part of establishing a collaborative environment where all employees work towards a common goal.  This common goal can be established through clear communication.

Are you struggling to get everyone on the same page?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Use an internal newsletter to communicate all the exciting things that are happening in your different departments. Highlight how each of these efforts work to support each other.  Think synergy!  These newsletters can also be used as a tool to feature an employee or a team and speak to how they contribute to your organization’s overall success.
  • Staff meetings are another great place to highlight how all of your departments’ efforts are interconnected and equally important. Find a fun way to illustrate this and keep staff engaged.  Your organization’s leader, whether that be your president, chairperson, or CEO, is often the most unifying and impactful cheerleader.

Getting the Stories You Need

Your colleagues who work on the program side of your organization have AMAZING stories to share.  Stories that you might miss if channels of communication aren’t open.  Getting stories and stats to share with your donors is an important part of your job.  Without personal communication between you and your program staff, this is impossible.  Try this advice:

  • Set aside time weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly (whichever works better for your busy teams) to have “story time.” Bring in donuts and coffee, encourage your folks in the trenches to join you for a treat and tell you all about their day-to-day experiences.  Work with them to get the content you need.  Take the time to talk through details.  This can often lead to other great stories, as you enjoy a nice conversation about everything your organization and their team has accomplished, and your overall future goals.  And don’t forget to thank them for all that they do!

How to Break Down Silos and Improve Fundraising

Always work hard to foster positive relationships between your teams, and you will be amazed at the compelling stories that come out of this connection. More heart-wrenching stories of those in need mean more money raised to accomplish your mission!

By: Sara Barnes