Managing Planned Giving Staff

Whether an individual contributor or a person with a staff, you have likely played a manager role on a team.  Many organizations operate in a matrix management style - in which a group of professionals with similar skills often belong to one team, but work with several different project managers to complete structured projects and programs.  Still, the transition to management can be tough in any line of work. This post explores both some of the general rules for “people managers” and the more specific rules of engagement in managing planned giving professionals.

General Rules

  • Don’t forget what type of support you’ve needed in the past from your managers. While the people you manage won’t need the exact same things from you, it’s a good starting point.
  • If you are managing or asked to manage people who were previously your peers, it’s OK to be sensitive about that transition, but you are no less responsible to drive performance from the team. Talk openly about the transition at first, but then put it behind you and get to work. 
  • Be sure to balance your focus on “rock stars” and employees that need development. It’s easy to stop paying attention to your rock stars because they are reliable and tend to work independently, but that’s also an easy way to cause them to feel undervalued and they are often the last people you want to lose.
  • Be the example. Frankly, you should be the hardest working person on your team.

Managing Planned Giving Staff – The Specifics

  • If you were promoted from a planned giving role and are still a gift planner, you are well aware of the obstacles you face. Your team faces the same. These might include: completing administrative tasks without adequate administrative support, territory issues with other development staff, and balancing the requirements of cultivating/stewarding existing donors and attracting new ones without enough hours in the day. Your job now is to remove, or more accurately, manage those obstacles. 
  • If you were not promoted from a planned giving role, you are not quite as well aware of the obstacles your team faces.  That’s important to keep in mind. Ensure you are working even more closely with the team to understand the unique goals of gift planners and the methods to accomplish those goals.
  • Build a metrics dashboard that makes sense, and then stick to it.  It might be important to you that each member of your team makes 6 local visits per month (for example).  It might also be important that 3 of those six are existing donors.  You might want each direct report to demonstrate that they have one active project in each category: attracting new donors, working with annual fund to search for planned gift potential among annual fund donors, and seeking new gifts from existing life income donors.  These are all examples, and you’ll need to build on them to support the program you require.
  • Ensure that each member of your team is reporting on progress against that dashboard. You might decide this should happen weekly or monthly, but you’ll need to be clued in to the progress the team is making toward departmental goals without being overwhelmed by detailed reports. 

Do you have any tips on managing planned giving staff?