Capacity Building (Part 3): Three Important Ways to Ensure Fundraising Is Tied to Programming

A sapling emerges from the soil

Peter Gamache
Peter Gamache, PhD
Jackie Griffin
Jackie Griffin, Turnaround Life, Inc.

Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Peter Gamache, Ph.D. and Jackie Griffin, Turnaround Life, Inc.

This is the third in a multi-part series from Turnaround Life, Inc. on the issues nonprofits face in building capacity. You can read the first two parts here: Part I | Part II.


All nonprofits have two essential sectors which ensure organizational success: fundraising and programming. The two teams help advance the entire objective goal of the nonprofit – which always means that they need to work well on their own, but also together.

All too often, the two are not aligned well and are not tied to each other in the way that breeds success, and further advancement of the nonprofit’s goals. In this, the third article in our series on capacity building for Philanthropy Journal, we want to share three tips to help you ensure the two teams are tied together and cooperating well.

1. Understanding for Each Other’s Roles

Most organizations are set to fail if the two core teams do not possess the recognition and respect for each other’s roles and responsibility. The same is very true for nonprofits, which is why you need to ensure that the fundraising and programming teams understand each other well.

What we have noticed with many nonprofits is an inherent lack of understanding for fundraising. Many within an organization may see development as a necessary evil while programming work is where real differences are made. In this way, programming teams are often left with the sense that the fundraising work simply pays the bills, and don’t look deeper into the relationship building that is the heart of any successful development operation.

It is essential to work towards eliminating these kinds of common misunderstandings in your organization if you want the two teams to fully integrate their efforts.

2. Joint Operation and Communication

Improving staff relations as well as ensuring no one deviates from the nonprofit’s goals and objectives is vital. One of the ways of achieving this is through well-established modes of communication.

With excellent communication, all operations within the teams will run smoothly. None of this will be possible without established respect and understanding of each other’s roles, which we previously discussed, and is essentially a prerequisite for communication.

Furthermore, communication includes good reporting between the two teams and full transparency. One of the best ways of creating such a culture in the organization is through the promotion of cross-team relationship building.

3. Playing to Strengths

In the end, programming and fundraising are two sides of the same coin. Without great fundraising, programming can’t be successful; similarly, without strong programming, fundraisers will be unable to connect with donors and build capacity.

Therefore, it’s critical that the two work hand-in-hand. Fundraisers must develop cases for support that highlight programming successes, and programming team members can ensure continuing organizational growth by communicating those successes with prospects and donors. In so doing, each part of the organization will be showcasing their strengths for a variety of audiences.

All in all, fundraising and programming need each other, and it is vital for you to ensure that the two are tied to each other and working well together. The three methods we discussed will ensure that the cooperation between the teams is moving forward and ensuring continued success.

Here at Turnaround Life, Inc., we aim to help organizations and programs that make it possible for people to turn their lives around. For more information about us, visit our website.


Peter Gamache, PhD, is a research, development, and evaluation specialist for health services  organizations, private foundations, and federally-funded public service organizations. His current research interests include disparities in health and mental health, integrated care, program fidelity, and program outcomes. He advocates for a collective understanding of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and culture to prevent and address marginalization of people living with disease, illness, injury, and disability.

Jackie Griffin serves as the development director, systems analyst, and director of evaluation for Turnaround Life, Inc. She has more than 26 years of experience dealing with nonprofit management, overseeing operations, grant development, grant management, capacity building evaluation, and performance assessment. Ms. Griffin manages the overall operations and resources of the company and works to enhance and sustain customer relationships and capacity building with stakeholders. She has worked to secure more than $69 million in government grants and expanding systems of care and behavioral health treatment in Florida, Mississippi, New Orleans, Maine and Virginia. Of that total, $22 million was awarded in the past three years in partnership with Turnaround Life and Turnar ound Achievement Network, LLC.  Ms. Griffin is a Certified Recovery Coach, and the former vice president of development of Operation PAR, Inc., and executive director of the LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Pinellas County. She earned her master’s with a concentration in nonprofit management and master’s  in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies, Tampa Bay campus. Ms. Griffin has taught graduate and undergraduate students as an adjunct faculty member for Springfield College Tampa Bay campus and currently serves as the president of its Community Advisory Board. Ms. Griffin founded Jackie Sue Griffin & Associates, LLC in 2013 to provide nonprofit organizations, health and human services and government agencies consulting expertise and technical assistance in fund development and philanthropy and capacity building. 

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