Updated: Oct 1, 2019
I completely accept that lots of people will look at this picture and shout “yes, me! I do want a cold beer in the sunshine!” and I’m with you!
But what I actually meant was, do you sometimes feel like a bottleneck? Like a lot of stuff sits on your shoulders? Information which you know you need to share and act on the essence of but keeping close control to the detail and the sharing of it?
The role as Manager of a Fundraising Team (or any team for that matter) is often also the role of gate keeper - filtering information, particularly the way it is communicated, both ways between your CEO & Trustees and your operational Fundraising team.
Sometimes, this bottle neck role is crucial - you have managerial responsibility and so are also involved in discussions and decisions which do not include other members of your team. At least, not yet. And your in ability to discuss the existence or content of these discussions can lead your team to believe you are either not involved, not party to, not interested or not dealing with a situation. You have to control the flow of information downwards so that your team are able to still perform objectively and stay motivated.
In other situations, you become aware of a team member's interview for a role with a different organisation or with something that they are not yet ready to share beyond you, and which you have to manage and control the flow of information upwards whilst still adhering to your own responsibilities as a member of the management team.
Then there are the other times - you know the ones I mean - when you're sitting in a Board Meeting and have to listen to someone who doesn’t understand the charity sector, your cause’s particular sector, or indeed fundraising, tell you where you team is going wrong and what they should be doing instead, This usually involves suggestions like Approaching Bill Gates and similar useful insights.
You stare imploringly at your CEO or Fundraising-Friendly Trustee, willing them to chip-in and set them straight, but nothing happens. So instead, while ignoring the voice in your head telling you to tell them straight exactly what you think of them and their ideas, you have to construct a piece of prose Shakespeare would have been proud of, and diplomacy from the Kofi Annan school of Peace-Keeping, and try to suggest a) why their observations are unfounded and b) what you, as the charity fundraising expert, think your team should be doing.
Then, who hasn't been in the situation where an awesome member of staff has done something really daft - not necessarily work-related, but something which could earn them a reputation or reprimand that they really aren't deserving of. But at the same time, you also know you need to kick their ass and let them know you've got their back but won't have if it happens again.
One of the most difficult situations, and one I hope is experienced far less often, is the incidence of the bottleneck/duty of care conundrum - where you, as a Senior Manager, have to use your organisation's whistle-blowing policy to make "someone" aware of a situation or potential situation which is potentially damaging, either to the organisation or to an individual. And if you thought the previous bottleneck instances were hard to deal with, this one sits in another echelon entirely.
I haven't met a Fundraising Manager who hasn't had to spent time on this as a significant part of their role. And yet, this Diplomacy Corps element of the charity line manager role, which is such a crucial one, is rarely formally acknowledged and almost never articulated in job descriptions or role definitions.
So, I've created Find Your Fundraising Tribe - a Facebook group for Fundraising Managers and Heads of Fundraising - a safe space in which to ask advice, to share experiences and to let off steam!
I'll be adding content, comment and information, hosting regular chat sessions and lives, and will be helping to find answers to your questions and challenges, and moderating what I hope will become a really supportive and engaging group.
Come and join us here