Friday, 22 March 2013

On looking before you leap...

Our lovely Collectivist Rachel posted recently on the trials and triumphs of crossing sectors and starting a new job.

It's a great post and great advice for anyone, new start or not. One piece of advice jumped out:

Agree to nothing

"Listen, ask questions and tell them you'll let them know.  Promising the earth on day one will make a very large rod for your back." 

Wise lady. Especially when applied to Major Gift fundraising.

It's a mistake to ask colleagues "What do you want money for?"  It's doubly a mistake to ask that question if the people you are asking aren't experienced in raising philanthropic money and don't know what makes a fundable project. If you ask that question you're making two mistakes (I know, because I've made them, many, many times):

1. You're asking the wrong question
2. You're asking the wrong people

Big gift fundraising is always a push me-pull you type situation.  You need a shop window to attract people, but you also need to have a stockroom full of good stuff to build bespoke proposals for your donors.  

The trick is this: the stuff in your (metaphorical) stockroom is all stuff your organisation wants to do.  You're not creating a package of projects which are irrelevant to your cause BUT you are giving the donor the chance to be led by his or her own interests and passions.  

If you want to find out which aspects of your programmes are fundable, ask the funders!

So your question to your colleagues shouldn't be: "What do you want money for?"  It should simply be, "What do you do?  Why is that important?"  

You should be getting to know the breadth of your organisation's work and its specialists, experts and campaigners.  

You do this so you can fill the shelves of your stockroom with enough information to be able to listen to a donor and to know what to do the information you hear. 

Oh, and drink tea. That was good advice too. 


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