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Development and Finance Teamwork By Winters Richwine

Development and Finance Teams Working Together

Planned gifts like charitable trusts, charitable gift annuities, donor advised funds, etc. can be key sources of funding for Christian nonprofit organizations.  Because these types of gifts include ongoing interaction with donors, they can also be relationship builders for future gifts.  However, planned gifts are often complex and involve both the development and finance teams of the organization.

Internal Challenges with Planned Gifts

 The usual tension between those in the development/sales function and those in the finance/administrative function certainly exists when it comes to planned giving.  Development teams want to close new gifts and are willing to go outside the box even if doing so might create difficulty for the finance team.  The finance team wants everything to fit inside said box and complains about development teams going rogue.  Relationships soon become strained, and the two departments no longer coordinate with each other.  Even worse, turf wars may arise.

Both teams must first realize that they have shared goals:  to further the mission of the organization and to serve donors with excellence.  With that perspective, each team can more easily maintain a collaborative mindset.  As in any relationship, communication is a key foundational element.  A few tips are listed below to supplement this foundation of the development-finance partnership:


  • Coordinate with the finance department in advance on potential gifts that may be unique/new to the organization.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring the finance department into discussions with potential donors. The finance department can demonstrate the organization’s administrative excellence and give the donor confidence that the gift will be managed properly.
  • Be willing to adjust if needed. The finance department may suggest a small change to the gift’s terms that won’t upset the donor but will remove an administrative headache.
  • Identify champions within the finance team that will support new ideas.


  • Keep in mind that closing a significant gift is difficult – maintain a spirit of flexibility. A large gift is often worth the challenge.
  • Understand the goals of the organization’s donors. Design processes to accommodate popular gift types and gift features.
  • Be willing to share with the development team which gift types and gift features have worked well and which haven’t.
  • To maintain donor satisfaction and encourage future gifts, provide ongoing communication/reporting to donors.

Final Thoughts

While communication seems like an obvious element of teamwork, one cannot overstate its importance in the development-finance partnership.  Organizations which communicate with a collaborative mindset will see the most success in attracting first-time and repeat planned gift donors.  Ultimately, these organizations will gain the greatest amount of financial resources to conduct God’s work on Earth.


Winters Richwine is a Principal and the Chief Operating Officer at Cornerstone Management.  Cornerstone Management serves Christian nonprofit organizations as an investment consultant, planned gift administrator, and planned gift consultant.


If you serve in Development or in Finance, it never hurts to sharpen your edge

Enroll in the Outcomes Academy Online Winter Term and you will find just what you need. Many thanks to  Cornerstone Management for their sponsorship of the 2018-2019 Academy!

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Click on the titles of these modules to learn more!

1. Accounting Basics for Ministry Leaders

Every nonprofit leader should have a basic understanding of the accounting roles and responsibilities within that organization. This basic accounting principles module is designed to provide an overview of how accounting is done for a ministry and the requirements for presenting financial information for the primary account balances. It is a high level perspective that will allow individuals throughout an organization to obtain a general understanding of accounting information.
Faculty: Jennifer Bridges – Co-Owner, Bridges Accounting and Consulting
Category: Financial Management

Last Day to Register: Jan 14, 2019
Module Start Date: Jan 21, 2019

2. CCNL Stewardship

The module is designed to provide the leader of a nonprofit organization an executive-level view of what is required for the God-honoring stewardship of finance, tax, legal and people management and care. The attention to these foundational aspects of leading a ministry well is essential to establishing excellence and transparency. This module is required for all those participating in the CCNL program and is highly recommended for all executive directors, CEOs, COOs, CFOs and Human Resource Executives. (Two sessions in Financial Management; one session in Tax & Legal; two sessions in People Management & Care)
Faculty: Lisa Cooper – CCNL, Director of Operations, Samaritan House
Category: CCNL

Last Day to Register: Jan 14, 2019
Module Start Date: Jan 21, 2019


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