Fundraising is a team sport

On October 26, 2015, in Insights, Workplace Culture, by Phillip A. Jones

In any organisation that relies on proactively seeking sources of funding its common to engage someone in the role as a fundraiser. Whether the title is fundraising or development, or giving manager or similar the focus is the same: the bottom line.

Its all about attracting money to fund operations or some other aspect of the organisation.

The role itself might be funded by a grant has to fund itself through donations or some form of fundraising and under a short term contract.

This in itself puts pressure on the person  to succeed, and whilst common, is not an ideal model as the person may be very successful in many areas of their job but may fall short of fundraising targets at no fault of their own.

The rules may change for a grants program, or funding withdrawn by the government due to a change of policy. Or perhaps they get sick, or a promised donation falls through due to no fault of their own.

Another factor that goes against meeting targets is that cultivating donations, especially recurring or significant donations is that it takes time. Time to find the right contacts, make the connection, educate + inspire the prospect, build trust and rapport and then convert that into a donation.

If the contract for the fundraiser is for six months or a year, then in many cases the conversion of a prospect, particularly in the case of a high net worth individual.

So they can do everything right and still not land their targets.

There are many factors that can influence success or failure for a fundraiser that are outside of their control, and its no wonder that there is often high burnout rate for people in those roles due to the uncertainty and stress involved.

Another factor that can impact success in fundraising is lack of support by the rest of the team. At times the attitude can be: that’s their job, not ours, we’re the admin/ creative / finance team et alia.

So often the result is the person is out there on their own, doing their best, but they really need the support of the entire organisation in some form.

This is essential not just as a risk mitigation strategy, but can also be a catalyst to get the energy of the team to help drive fundraising activities in an coordinated way.

So at all levels of the organisation there is a role they can play from Board level, to management, to rank and file staff.   Itis important they have a shared understanding of the fundraising activity or specific campaign and given the tools and rationale to help it along by the fundraising manager.

They can have a role in lots of ways that don’t necessary take them away from their own responsibilities, but it give a multiplier effect to the activity. Some of the activities can include:

  • Contribute to the development of the fundraising strategy and offer to assist in its execution
  • Being available to test messages and tactics before the launch
  • Raising awareness of the campaign through their own networks including social media
  • Leading by example by promotion of the opportunity to give, giving themselves or reaching out to people that can donate, the old ‘get, give or get-off’ mantra!
  • Turning up and showing solidarity especially at fundraising events
  • Create introductions or open doors for the specialist fundraiser to start the conversation or follow-up with their peers once an initiate contact has been made to help convert the prospect, especially at the senior level
  • Ensuring their doing their bit to ensure the organisation is as attractive as possible to a potential donor
  • Amplifying the key messages that have been developed about what the organisation is looking to achieve with the funds raised, and the results of what’s been done with donations to date.
  • Help celebrate the wins and reflecting back constructively how fundraising initiatives can be improved for next time.

No one person can be solely responsible for fundraising for an organisation, everyone has a role to play in some way and can contribute materially to its success. There needs to be a go-to person who can design the strategy, create the opportunities, cultivate the leads design the activities and be the point of contact.

But by leveraging the whole team, then it not only multiplies the potential of the fundraising activity, but shows potential donors that the organisation as a whole has a team spirit, is invested in its future and is a good investment of their support.

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