Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Getting Campaign ready: where to start?

Sorry for being so quiet recently, I've been busy. I've launched a major organisational-wide campaign and here are some thoughts I've gathered in the process that I thought were worth sharing.

Perhaps we should start at the beginning.

Why on earth would you choose to move into campaign? 

All that extra added bonus pressure, the targets, the expectations? Apart from the blatant fact that many of us fundraisers thrive on a bit of a busy (work) life...well, a campaign can galvanise the interest of donors and improve engagement opportunities. It can encourage donors to aim higher, as well as accelerating the decision to make a gift. A campaign, if done well, will also improve awareness both internally and externally of what is going on across the institution. A campaign can improve awareness of unique projects are being undertaken and improve staff, and stakeholder commitment to the long term plans. It all takes a lot of time and effort through, and you can’t stop once you’ve started!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Threat or opportunity? The backlash against fundraising

It's been a dark few days for the world of fundraising, what with government ministers and others tossing about words like "vile", "disgusting," "grotesque" and "immoral" in connection with telephone fundraising and the likes of Dame Hilary Blume being reported as saying: "I'd like to dismiss all the people who are in charge of these big fundraising operations."

Nuanced it has not been.

We're nice people, fundraisers, or so I like to think. We've chosen to work in a field which is all about connecting people with causes that can make a difference to their lives and the lives of other people in society. We care about that. We want to do the right thing by donors and by beneficiaries.

This week, our official voice, the Institute of Fundraising has been unequivocal in damning bad practice - even if it takes place in third party agencies - and welcoming a stronger self regulatory framework. I doubt any fundraiser would argue with that: no one wants vulnerable people to be exploited or abused and many charities were set up to prevent that very thing.

We care about the people who support our causes and of course we want to add to their number. Who wouldn't? But we don't want to do it at any price. Our donors are part of of who we are and we want them to stick with us on our shared journey.  

So I don't disagree with putting a more robust framework in place. That's a good thing. But I do disagree with the way in charities have been attacked without recognition of the massive contribution that charities make to our social cohesion and to the wellbeing of most households in the UK.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

What do we really want from charities?

Did you know that over 9 out of 10 British households have used a charity's services - and four out of five housholds have used charity services within the last 12 months? 

Charities are part of the fabric of our society - but what do we really mean by charity?

The word "charity" comes from the French word "charité" which in turn derives from the Latin word "caritas". Originally caritas meant dearness, costliness but gradually it became more equated to love and in the King' James Bible was used as a translation of the Greek word "agape". Unconditional love. Love for your fellow humans.

You might recognise the passage. It's from St Paul's Letters to the Corinthians is a favourite at Christian weddings. It goes something like this:

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

In the King James version the word "charity" is used instead of the word "love". Charity suffers long and is kind. Charity does not parade itself.

Those are the origins of the word which is used to describe the type of organisation for which many of us fundraisers work. Charities were born from the act of charity - the practice of giving alms. Almsgiving was a widespread medieval practice and it was one that helped to structure the economy and legitimise the social hierarchy.