Why are you an awesome fundraiser?

A recurring question in our sector is: what makes fundraising truly great?

Professors Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang looked to answer this question in their report, Great Fundraising, and what they discovered is still very relevant.

Adrian and Jen examined the differences between charities which significantly increased their income year-on-year compared to ones that flat-lined or whose income increased only incrementally.

When asked to summarise what highly successful organisations did differently in one sentence, Adrian said:

“Income grows when the entire organisation is proud of its fundraising as an integral part of its mission.”

Further, Adrian and Jen found that everyone in highly successful charities:
• Saw themselves as a fundraiser irrespective of whether they had ‘fundraising’ in their job title
• Viewed fundraising as integral to achieving the mission. Without money, their charity can’t provide services
• Was proud of the role they took in fundraising because it would enable their organisation to do more.

I regularly run workshops to help organisations focus and think more clearly about their fundraising. Often, I ask people to attend who aren’t ‘frontline fundraisers’ – by that I mean people who don’t meet with donors or don’t have a specific fundraising income target. When I invite them, they usually tell me that they aren’t a fundraiser and are therefore not certain that they could contribute to a session about fundraising.

This makes me smile because nine times out of 10, it’s people who say they are not fundraisers who ask the best questions because they aren’t immersed in the day-to-day detail. They ask the questions that get people thinking in different ways, and that’s where the best ideas come from.

It also makes me smile because, through my workshops and conversations, I’ve discovered that there are many awesome fundraisers without ‘fundraising’ in their job title – they just haven’t realised that they are fundraisers. For example:

• A finance administrator identified that their organisation could process upgrades in a faster way, which resulted in £150,000 additional income for the charity that financial year. The finance administrator is an awesome fundraiser.

• A supporter care team started offering people who called to cancel their direct debits some alternatives, such as taking a three-month payment ‘holiday’ or reducing their monthly amount. The team saved £1,000s by preventing donations from being cancelled outright. The supporter care team are awesome fundraisers.

• A helpline team started gently asking for a donation when a helpline call worked out. A caller who had been assisted said, “I wanted to give something back. Now I can.” The helpline team are awesome fundraisers.

• A prospect researcher identified the single biggest multi-million pound donor a charity had ever had. The prospect researcher is an awesome fundraiser.

• A care nurse told a story at a social gathering about the children they look after. The people listening made donations without being asked. The care nurse is an awesome fundraiser.

None of the people above have ‘fundraising’ in their job title. None of them has an income target. But each of them is an awesome fundraiser.

If you work for a charity and have anything to do with supporters or beneficiaries at any stage of their relationship with your organisation, you are a fundraiser. Own it. Be proud of it. What you’re doing enables your cause to make a difference. You are awesome!

Link to Great Fundraising http://revolutionise.com/downloads/the-great-fundraising-report/

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