I have worked in fund-raising and sponsored grant management for my whole career (with the short and tasty exception of hotel catering sales after college). I am really lucky — I have had the chance to try a lot of things, and I worked with people who don’t like to fail.
I have visited homes and offices and have directly asked prospective donors to make multi-million dollar transformational gifts. My colleagues and I have created events, developed campaigns, designed brochures, priced direct mailers, traveled the world, written content, and bribed the advancement services directors to let us break in new social media options (oh come on, we only bribed with cookies).
After all of this, I remain a strong believer in keeping it simple: ask the right person for the right gift at the right time for the right purpose in the right way. Be organized. Know the value of a data table relative to the tables around it, but don’t try to request a download alone without answering questions about how the data will be used. Create some protocols for everyday processes and, for God’s sake, fill the fax machine with paper each night so the queued-up international faxes don’t slow us down in the morning!