“Starting from scratch” to build a development department is always a challenge -- but it was even more so for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission), a missionary-sending organization with more than 100 years of history. When Shelley Cochrane was assigned by her executive director to attend a Christian Stewardship Association conference to see what she could learn, her eyes were opened to a whole new world.

“Here I was, a former missionary to Europe, and I’d been working as an administrative assistant to help out at headquarters in Wheaton,” she recalls. “Suddenly at CSA I felt like I’d been dropped into a fascinating, and in some ways frightening world.” That CSA event led to meetings with McConkey-Johnston to evaluate TEAM’s circumstances and, eventually, to a partnership designed to build a development team and strategy for the ministry. Shelley was assigned responsibility for development and resolved to make this a priority for the entire mission -- not just her new “department.”

“We truly started with nothing but a firm commitment from the Board that we were to expand significantly our development efforts,” Shelley remembers, “plus some seed money to help us get going. McConkey-Johnston was very helpful and very patient as everything unfolded. We defined a very careful, practical approach to building the right team and introducing the right strategic elements at the right time. And all the while they taught, trained, and helped us to implement solutions that certainly stretched us, but didn’t take us too far out of TEAM’s comfort zone.”

TEAM’s long history and culture as a “no-solicitation” mission organization presented a number of challenges to the development team. But many of those challenges were reduced by a continuous focus on the biblical nature of the development task -- a focus that was appreciated by the staff, leadership and board. Within the initial year of partnership with M/J, TEAM experienced a leadership change at the very top when Dr. Charlie Davis was named International Director. A lifelong missionary, Charlie initially expressed some hesitancy about his role in the development activities of the mission...

“This was very new territory for me,” remarked Charlie. “I am no salesman, and I had no desire to become one, if that was what was expected of me. But a full day meeting with Shelley and Jeff Mclinden of M/J helped me to understand the ‘missionary’ nature of development -- particularly in the approach they were adapting for TEAM. It wasn’t long until I had become a full participant in our development activities.”

“Charlie was a great example for the rest of our new team, too”, says Shelley. “He’d always be first to submit his contact reports with major donors. And he was always ready for us to shape his schedule for appointments as we built our major donor and foundations efforts.”

The work at TEAM was broad and comprehensive, utilizing major donor, mass donor, marketing/communications and staff training strategies. Systems played an important role, as well, since TEAM had no history of marketing-focused database management or the software to support it. That meant adapting new ways of gift processing, information coding, and reporting to TEAM’s information systems. Ultimately, it meant searching for new software and systems solutions that would carry TEAM comfortably into the future.

According to Shelley, “M/J helped from the outset to focus our ministry on the need for a solid database and software that would not only help us manage donor relationships, but also to measure our development strategy’s performance. For us that has taken several different approaches -- from adapting parallel systems for development functions to creating an entirely new software solution that would integrate all the systems functions at TEAM.” It also meant adapting new ways of strategic measurement and accountability for every area of TEAM -- from the board on down. TEAM has now successfully implemented strategic measurement and management systems that guide every aspect of its ministry.

Shelley sums up her experience with M/J in this way: “From my first conversation with you, I was convinced that you and your colleagues at McConkey-Johnston are people of expertise and experience who could help us achieve our goals. Beyond your compelling competence in the disciplines of development and marketing, however, your allegiance to biblical truth as the foundation for philosophy and methodology is your strongest, overarching asset to us here at TEAM. I commend you for your outstanding commitment to extending the Lord’s work around the world.”