Posted by: Don Linnen | 12 April 2010

Development Horses

So you’re a one-horse team pulling the nonprofit you founded. You’ve had a dozen people willing to write checks for your mission for the last few years.

You are the E.D., the Development Director, the Outreach Director, the Special Events Manager, and the chief cook and bottle washer. Sound familiar? Getting a little tired?

You need to reach more people, grow your nonprofit, and get some more sleep. You need to add some more horses to your team. Which ones do you add first?

Mazarine Treyz in her very helpful blog, Wild Woman Fundraising, suggests a skeleton fundraising crew for an ideal team. She stimulated my thinking. I view development of a development team a little differently.

You’re already doing everything. Ask yourself a few questions.

What do you do well? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you like to do? The first horses to add are ones that don’t struggle with the things you try to avoid.

Development can be divided into “details” and “message.”

Heaven is in the details. Tracking your donors. Thanking them. Reporting to them. Writing new proposals. Researching new funders. Keeping the database clean and up-to-date.

Inspiration is in the message. Reaching out to people. Finding volunteers. Honing the message…aka marketing. Delivering it through special events.

Since you’re the founder and team leader, you’re probably the message person.  If so, you know what you need. Add horses that compliment you.

Build a team. One that pulls together to go further and faster with less effort. Just like a paceline.


  1. Thank you very much for mentioning my blog and for the compliment! I appreciate it!


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