The Development CORE TEAM: Why? Who? How? What?
Frank Donaldson, ISPD President
In the spring of 1992, I was presenting a two day development workshop in the Diocese of San Jose. This was a time when development was just becoming more and more recognized as being necessary in order for Catholic schools to survive. In fact, the headlines of an edition of NCEA Notes in 1990 read, “Development the Key to the Future of Catholic Schools.” At this workshop I was covering the basics of how to establish a development/marketing effort in a Catholic school. As the first day ended with a presentation and discussion on the “all publics” newsletter, I had a pastor and a principal who came up to me and said, “Frank, this is great information. Thank you. But, we feel like you are giving more work to the pastor and the principal. Who is going to do all of this?”
This was a question that certainly paused me to think about the practical side of all of this. Back then, there were not a lot of development directors, and in addition, not that many people even understood what this was all about. Plus, the pastor and the principal were from an elementary school and a parish. If I remember my response was somewhat vague, and I talked about a development director – full time or part time or volunteer.
Coming back home, I had many thoughts running through my head; however, the main one was that we just couldn’t go teach about development and emphasize one process after another, one step after another, one event after another – without talking about the “how.” That would be like the board or the finance council saying to the development director, “You need to raise an additional $50,000 in the Annual Fund.” But, never saying “how.”
After several months of discussions with other associates, staff, and colleagues, the concept of the Core Team was born. Here we are, over 25+ years later, and we have had the wonderful opportunity of helping establish hundreds of core teams all over the country. In fact, at a recent consulting visit, I had a principal who said to me, “There is no way, even with an advancement director, that we would have been as far as we are today if it wasn’t for our Core Team. I never thought this would work.”
With the above in mind, and the organizational chart below, let’s go through the WHY, WHO, HOW AND WHAT of a Development Core Team.
When we look at the many plates to spin in the development/advancement world, we find that implementation of a process (Annual Appeal direct mail, Total Stewradship education, Open House, gift reception, fall festival, alumni newsletter, alumni informational gathering sessions, capital campaign readiness steps, phone outreach, parent coffees, etc.) can fall into one of three categories:
- School/parish personnel and structures in place and can be implemented internally – do not need a Core Team.
- School/parish personnel and structures in place but need to work with a team in order to implement – need a Core Team.
- Need a Core Team because school/parish personnel and structures are not in place to implement.
There are so many processes, events, and activities with which a Core Team can
help. Please keep in mind that this is NOT the development committee of the board; this is not the marketing committee; this is not the Golf Tournament committee. Many of these leaders can be on the Core Team, but these groups are not the same as the Core Team.
We always recommend that the pastor, principal and/or president identify 20-25 people who represent the various areas of the school/parish. These should be leaders who can organize, communicate, implement, and “roll up their sleeves.” Representation from all key leadership groups should be considered. Select and invite people from the parish council, the school advisory council, the parent club, the alumni board, the boosters’ club, the faculty/staff, etc. You will need positive and mission-driven people who believe in the school and the leadership.
Invite 20+ people – personally – with a letter, a phone call, and/or a personal eyeball to eyeball invitation. We find that if you invite 20-25 people, you will get the 18-20 that you will need.
Primarily, the Core Team does three things:
- Educate (15%): They inform parish and school leadership groups what is going on with the development/advancement efforts. It is best when Core Team members have an organization, group, ministry, club, etc. to which they are assigned/aligned, and they can schedule update meetings with them for 5-10 minutes in order to keep everyone informed of what is going on with devleopment/advancement activities.
- Facilitate (15%): Core Team members are often called upon to facilitate small groups in strategic planning or facilitate input/listening sessions, or to facilitate Q&A sessions with parents and parishioners.
- Implement (70%): This is where the Core Team is the most valuable. They can implement or help implement. Here are some examples:
- Head up the New Parishioner Welcome process
- Work with the alumni director with inviting decade chairs and class reps
- Research how other parishes implement small faith communities
- In-pew surveys
- Phone Outreach to school parents inviting them to something twice per year as a way to stay in touch
- Work with development office in implementing the alumnae phonathon
- The list goes on.
Outlined below is an implementation chart that comes from a client of ours. This is how they have organized their Core Team. They are in their second year of implementation with hundreds of people now involved in the process.
We invite you to strongly consider putting your Core Team in place. Delegate; spread the people base; move further into team management. The Core Team can be your answer!