Why Silos and Fundraising Don't Mix and 10 Ways to Break Them Down
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term silo can be equipment used to store grain; an underground chamber in which a guided missile is kept ready for firing; or a system or a process, department, etc., that operates in isolation from others.
Have you ever engaged fundraising professionals who work in silos either by organizational design, management mandate or personal preference? In my experience in management, consulting, mentoring, discussion with peers and simple observation over the years, I have seen and continue to observe many silos.
Many organizations have created distinct departments for annual giving, major gifts and planned gifts that work independently of each other. In many cases, portfolios are created with specific mandates for each segment. Specific strategies, for example, may be employed for prospects in direct mail, online giving, special events and personal solicitation. This process may be further divided into areas of corporations, foundations, associations, organizations and individuals.
Gift clubs are established to further subdivide prospects and donors. Staffs are typically given responsibility and accountability to maintain their own portfolios, which many privately guard. Their focus is to look at prospects from one perspective — that being to secure a singular objective in the way of either a short- or long-term gift.
In some organizations, departments are physically separated from each other and information is not shared. Annual-giving staffs do not talk or interact with major-gift staff. Planned-gift staffs are considered "them" and not us. As such, prospect and donor information is not shared, turf battles are formed, and individuals are worried about achieving individual fiscal-year financial goals without regard to overall team financial goals.
In these cases, there is no uniform process for identifying, rating and screening donors. There are no written plans of action, and success is not shared with everyone. Communication is selective from administration and given to volunteers on an "as needed" basis. In fact, staffs in various areas do not interact with each other beyond their specific roles.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.