Everyone is a fundraiser, whether or not they have the word ‘fundraising’ in their job title
Fundraising can often be the glue that binds together an organisation. For a charity to survive and succeed all staff and volunteers should have a collective responsibility for fundraising, argues Paul Marvell.
I believe passionately that all volunteers and staff involved in a charity have a collective responsibility for raising funds as well as spending them. In a small organisation with few resources this is critical, and often about survival.
The first reason for my belief is obvious. The more people who are involved in fundraising for a charity (provided they are engaged and directed correctly), the more chance there is of generating sufficient income to maintain, and hopefully grow, the number of beneficiaries reached by the charity. This is simply about creating a critical mass.
Secondly, and I accept this might be somewhat controversial, if those volunteers and staff involved in spending money on behalf of the charity were involved in raising that money in the first place they might do their jobs differently and perhaps use resources more wisely. In this category I would include all those delivering the charity’s services as well as those in support functions such as HR, Finance and Marketing.
Thirdly, donors often don’t want to hear about a charity’s work from a fundraiser. Much better to hear about the work you are helping to fund from someone actually involved in delivering that work. Normally a volunteer or staff member working on the ‘front line’ can articulate what they do and the difference they make far more passionately and personally than others less involved. Being involved in a donor visit or briefing, front line volunteers and staff can make a huge difference to a charity’s fundraising efforts without it even feeling like fundraising! Some of the best fundraisers I have ever worked with would never have seen themselves as fundraisers; they were just brilliant about talking about their work.
Finally fundraising can often be the glue that binds together an organisation; all volunteers and staff working together to a common goal. What could be better than being part of that link between the donor and the beneficiary? Being able to see the pleasure that people get from supporting a great cause and being able to see the positive impact on the beneficiary; often being able to allow donor to meet beneficiary. It is things like this that make a fundraising a pleasure, whether it’s in your job title or not.
But this stuff does not just happen by magic. It requires leadership. For this reason I believe that the CEO of any charity (no matter what size) needs to lead from the front. They need to see themselves as head fundraiser, whether or not they have a paid fundraising team. They need to invest 20% of their time in fundraising. Many will say they are too busy to do this, but what could be more important? Similarly trustee boards need to show fundraising leadership; in my world all charity trustees would give money as well as help raise it. Otherwise how can they ask other donors and volunteers to do the same?
In large charities, with sometimes seemingly infinite resources to fundraise, the points I have made above are important; but for small charities with a tiny staff team, fewer volunteers and virtually nothing to invest in fundraising they are nothing short of crucial. If you lead a small charity, what can you do to engage the entire volunteer and staff in fundraising? What changes in culture do you need to make? What level of leadership will you, your management team and trustees need to show? One thing is clear in my mind: if you don’t get this right in the current funding environment your charity might not be here this time next year.
Paul Marvell is Director of Professional Development and Membership at the Institute of Fundraising. He is responsible for driving forward the professionalism and effectiveness of fundraising through the Institute’s range of learning opportunities, including qualifications, courses, online learning, CPD and conferences. More about Paul.