Friday, 30 March 2012

Fundraising is Beautiful

My name is Jane Bloggs.  Twenty years ago I set up a business selling pink wellington boots to one eighty year old ladies.  

My business was highly successful – within five years the ladies gave me enough to employ five more people.  We branched out into pink umbrellas, selling only to those lovely, aging ladies.

There are two things I absolutely and categorically refuse to do:

  •  Pay attention to trends.  So what if my town was turning into a desert?  So what if the fashions had gone away from pink and into purple?  I am the pink wellington lady and that is what I do.
  • Diversify my customer base.  Why should I?  The elderly ladies like me and I like them.  They are a good steady source of income.  Or at least they were.  Diversifying my customer base would be like selling.  I might have to tell people why my wellies are good.  Ugh.

The only problem is that last week I realised that only three of my pink welly ladies were still standing.  And my town hasn’t seen rainfall in eighteen months.

If I don’t get some money in the next three months I’m going to have to lay off staff.  Nice staff.  People who’ve been with me from the start.

Holy guacamole.

I am stuffed.

Now, you might think Jane Bloggs is at worse certifiably insane and at best ignorant.  You might think that Jane Bloggs is an impossibility.  

You would be wrong.

Somewhere in an office near you sits the Chief Executive of a small charity which has relied on public sector grants for two decades.  It is their only real income stream. 

Fundraising is not part of what this charity does because money spent on fundraising is money not spent on development programmes, activism or campaigning.  There is no time to fundraise and no staff. Plus fundraising makes the Chief Executive uncomfortable.  No one likes to be asked for money, do they?  It’s like sales.  Grubby. Vulgar. Ugh.

They would be wrong.

1. Fundraising is about relationships.  It’s about communities of interest.  It’s about finding the people who love your work just as much as you do and giving them the chance to help you to make it happen.  

2. Fundraising will not just strengthen your organisation by giving it a broad, sustainable mix of income streams, it will strengthen it in innumerable ways too.  Your supporters are your biggest fans and advocates.  They will help you build capacity, they will help you weather the storms to come. 

3. (and this is the scary bit) Fundraising is not the sole preserve of professional fundraisers.  It is everyone's job.  Yeah, I'm looking at you Jane Bloggs. And you Chief Executive.  Because (in case you missed that part) - it's about relationships

Now I’ve got your attention, let me tell you one important thing


And this blog is about telling you how to do it.