20th July, 2011

It’s so much easier to raise funds for …

I started my career in fundraising 14 years ago when I worked in the events and then corporate fundraising team for the national disability charity, Scope.  When the pressure was on to raise money I would always look to children’s charities with envy thinking it would be so much easier to raise money for them.

Then I was responsible for leading and raising money for a small local children’s charity and would look to the national non-profits with envy dreaming, ‘if only we had better awareness’.

Next, I was Chief Executive for Get Connected, a national confidential helpline for young people, and would look back on the day when we could show donors round a site with fondness, wishing for the same again.

Now, as a consultant, working with a wide variety of clients I hear the same cries a lot – ‘no-one cares about this cause’ or ‘if only we had so-and-so as a Patron’. I’ll bet the fundraisers in almost every team in the land have looked at other causes with envy at one time or another.

It’s only now, with the benefit of hindsight and taking the time to really study what all those ‘other’ fundraising teams did so well, that I see it so clearly now.

They find out what motivates their donor to give and they tap into that drive.  When was the last time you picked up the phone to a donor, not to ask them for money, but to thank them and ask why they give, then sit and learn from that?  Fundraising is not about talking, it’s about listening.  It’s about why the donor wants to give.

Finally, rather than moan about the competition’s edge, as I used to, why not step off the treadmill for a short while and look really hard at what they do well.  Look beyond the case study that you could never replicate and look at how it is written, do some digging to find out how they got the patron and then – this is the crucial point – think ‘what can I learn from that?’

As a self-employed consultant I spend far more time now learning from what others do brilliantly than I ever did when I was employed by or even leading organisations.  And now I see what a missed opportunity that was.  My reading pile would get ignored whilst the ‘real work’ was prioritised.

I now call it ‘look in and look out’ and remind myself to do it every week.  Look in at what you’re doing, with critical eye, and find out what people think of that.  Then look out; find out what others are doing brilliantly, seek out the brilliance, get excited by it and learn from it.  You owe it to yourself, your organisation and most importantly your beneficiaries.

What do you think?  How do you learn from what you and others do?


have your say

required information
required information
required information
Please enter the information as indicated
Web design by FLOQ Design