5 Tips to Offset the Daily Struggle of Advancement Services and Support Your Development Officers



Those in advancement services often face many obstacles when it comes to being pulled in different directions. The first obstacle is time management. They may be faced with managing operational activities on top of a slew of daily tasks. Your advancement team may struggle to allot time for emergencies—the “at the moment need” that advancement services are tasked with supporting.


On top of their already burdened workload, those in advancement services must work in standard training and development. If they’re able, they may also be tasked with working on internal team projects to innovate or do better in the future. 


If your advancement services team is struggling in the day-to-day, here are five tips to offset so they can provide the quality support your development officers need. 


Conduct A Staff Assessment


Your advancement staff is one of your most valuable assets as an organization. As such, you don’t want to overwork them. Instead, take time to complete a staff assessment to identify how much work each team member has and if it’s time to add to your team. 


First, meet with each employee to identify their primary duties and associated volume. Then, track activities for a set time—this could be a couple of weeks or a month. Incorporate seasonality and non-standard work. As you conduct your staff assessment, decide if you have adequate resources to address all the necessary factors. 


Ask yourself these questions. 


  • Does the advancement team have adequate time to complete operational activities? 
  • Is there enough time in the advancement teams’ schedule to support emergencies as they arise? 
  • Is the advancement services team able to participate in standard training and development? 
  • Does your advancement services team have the ability to participate in internal team projects?


If you’re falling short on any one of these factors, this could indicate that you are understaffed. Conversely, if you’re unable to fit all of these components into your staff’s workload or schedule, you might have too few people. 


Consider hiring to help support your existing advancement services team or offset the workload by hiring a consultant


Be Flexible with the Work Environment 


When it comes to daily operations, consider the working environment. Many times, the “heads-down” work that staff or team members need to complete may not be conducive to their working environment. Do they have uninterrupted time in their schedules that they can use to complete these types of tasks? Consider being flexible with staff in finding that optimal environment. This might mean offering a remote work option to complete the work. 


Or it could mean offering a spare office for them to go into and close the door. Being flexible with the environment provides optimal productivity for team members to complete their daily operational tasks. 


Revert Emergencies to Management 


Emergencies should always be directed toward management.  Any emergency request or needs from the development officers should be reviewed and prioritized by management. Management can help identify what can be removed or postponed from the advancement team’s workload to accommodate the emergency. Always avoid simply piling on more work.


Establish Dedicated Time for Training and Development


Allot time for your advancement services team to participate in training and development on a quarterly basis. 


If possible, ask your team to share insights and ideas on applying the training to their daily tasks. It’s one thing to absorb the information. But training and development should be about bridging the gap on how to incorporate it into everyday usage. 


Use Internal Projects for Team Growth and Future Development


Internal team projects are essential for growth. In many cases, projects that are completed often result in increased productivity and effectiveness. Based on department priorities, your team should allocate time for internal projects each quarter to be fit into their workload.