Turn donors into champions of your cause
It was more like being a student again than I’d imagined: there were late nights, there was swearing, there were tears, there were emotional highs and lows throughout the whole year.
I did the International Advanced Diploma because I wanted a serious qualification in a career that is sometimes misunderstood – in an organisation where the fundraising team is small it can feel like everyone is an amateur fundraiser, giving the professionals the benefit of their advice whether it’s wanted or not. I wanted some theoretical back up, and of course I wanted something to show off on my CV. I got so much more than I was expecting though…
First off, there was the deep academic grounding in asking and stewarding donors. Before the course, I was used to going to conferences where people presented some great examples of good practice and innovation along with their strategy behind them, which I could learn from, adopt and adapt. The International Advanced Diploma still gave us great examples, but it gave us the proven theories behind them – what you actually need to know and do to change people’s behaviour, to make non-donors into donors, and to convert donors to lifetime donors and champions of your cause.
Then there was the systems thinking behind this. The tutors were aiming to give us the tools we needed to become leaders of fundraising at the most dynamic and successful major national charities. Yes, that’s about good fundraising ideas, but it’s about a lot more too: it’s about leadership, about politics, about partnership and persuasion, and about innovation and implementation. The readings ranged across marketing, systems, organisational management, psychology and more… and with those tools, and the training in how to use them from the tutors, we are now empowered to navigate our way in any organisation, whatever the challenges and opportunities might be.
The third thing which I gained from the International Advanced Diploma was the opportunity to think about my career, and my life in general. Many of the readings were about values and identity, and the contribution of philanthropy to our society. This gives you the opportunity to take your career blinkers off and realise that the track you’re on is one of many… is it right for you? We all have different ambitions about what we’ll achieve with our career, but it won’t be measured in ‘pounds raised’. Just like our donors, it’s the impact of our work we want to see – looking back, what did we change for the better, and how?
I’d recommend this course for people who are committed to the fundraising profession, and who want to bring about change for good. Expect it to be demanding – we were very prepared for the time commitment before we started, but it’s not just about that: there are some hard questions and it’s a workout not just for your intellect but also for your emotions. As I said, there were tears, frustration and chaos, out of which we did find new ideas, and I see the benefit in my work almost every day.
Sarah Cripps, former Development Manager, Queen Mary University of London
Interested in the International Advanced Diploma in Fundraising? Contact the Academy team