In the last month or two of a senior fundraising role one of the most important tasks is to write handover notes for your successor. So, what’s different about writing fundraising handover notes than for any other job? Good fundraising is all about relationships and the flip side of fundraising is communications.
So, documenting the relationships and communicating these in a handover document is critical for your successor, the charity and your reputation as a professional and competent senior fundraiser.
You should bear in mind that writing good handover notes is quite a job; it’ll take more time than you think. You’ll also need to put yourself in your successor’s shoes, who may not know the sector your charity serves.
If you’ve been in post for some years you will have accumulated significant knowledge of your sector and what types of fundraising works best for your charity. Your successor may well be the proverbial ‘blank slate’, so the more you can explain the better.
5 tips for great fundraising handover notes
Begin your handover notes before you need to!
Writing the ‘bones’ of your handover notes when you’ve no thought of your next role is much easier, you can build them as you work with little effort, you’ll also capture the detail better. That said, once you know you’re leaving begin them as soon as possible as there can be a lot to capture and you’ll be trying to maintain the day job as well.
Think about the job structure and include plenty of detail
Some fundraising departments grow organically and there is often overlap between roles and tasks, so your structure may be unique or unusual. Think about the best structure for the notes, so your successor can easily see the processes within the fundraising team. You can never include too much detail, not only on what you do, but also why you do it and what you don’t do. Also include key contacts with their email addresses so your successor can easily pick up and build on your network.
Include links to key documents
Your successor will not only have to find their way around a new building and meet a new team, they will also have to find their way around your electronic infrastructure.
Your handover notes should also include links to key documents and details of passwords that may be required. You should also check that third party portals such Dropbox are not linked to your personal email address. Reviewing your key documents will also give you a chance to see what electronic and paper files are no longer necessary. Spend time deleting redundant files, it’ll be faster for you to do this than your successor, as you know the material.
- SEE ALSO: Your last 100 days as fundraising director – the plan by John Green (23 January 2020)
Consult your team on the final draft
Once you’ve a final draft, seek the input of your fundraising team. They’ll not only help you avoid jargon but will also have a greater understanding of their own roles so will be able to correct or add further detail regarding their roles that will be
valuable for your successor to understand. They will also be keen to ensure your successor understands the value of the work as fully as possible, capturing this in the notes will help misunderstandings with their new director.
Timing is everything
Once the handover notes have been finalised, plan to finish ‘working’ one week before you leave the office. This will give the team the chance to engage with the handover, especially if your successor is not in situ. During this week you’ll be able to brief colleagues on the plan and be present for any problems that can be more quickly resolved whilst you are still there.
In that last week chase up any outstanding invoices that need to be paid, this will be relatively easy for you, but cold be an inconvenient annoyance for your successor in their first days.
Lastly, something that won’t be in the handover notes, on the last day phone offsite colleagues to thank them personally and make sure you celebrate in some way with the office team, much of your success will have been impossible without them.
Director of Development
Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea)
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