My son announced that he's giving up booze for the month. A laudable effort something I've done in the past (both with success and failure) and it's true most of us consider giving something up at this time of year. However how about resolving to do something really positive rather than negative?
We've all been somewhat shocked and taken aback by the fundraising debacle which hit the press in the summer with the Olive Cooke affair, got worse with the Daily Mail revelations of sharp practice and probably reached a nadir with the Commons enquiry, the Stuart Etherington report and the Institute's own entrail gazing exercises (in which I participated hoping we'd do more good than harm). So we've got a new regime(?) wrists have been slapped, some agencies have gone bust and some charities are predicting dire consequences. Is it all OK now? Safe to go back into the acquisition water? To shall we say, "carry on fundraising"?
Somehow I don't think so. We need, I believe, a new mindset. Or perhaps a development of what Ken Burnett, George Smith and Stephen Pidgeon have been wittering on about for years.Not to mention the academics like Adrian Sergeant and myself. Dan Palotta has it right too. If you haven't heard his rant, do so right now.
Fundraising, simply, has to be about investment. Fundraisers have to develop relationships - and that doesn't mean converting one off givers to a direct debit. Chief Executives and Trustees are to blame for the short sighted, transactional fundraising that has taken over from all the supporter development programmes.
I've just witnessed the true story of a new fundraising appointee, employed for the first time as a Community Fundraiser (in a charity that has never done community fund-raising before) with the absurd target of £120,000 in his first year. The Chief Executive set the target, with trustee support. Probably felt it was a win-win, whereas in fact of course it is a lose-lose. Even if he gets lucky and finds some amazing, friends, volunteers and groups to help him raise that money it will be completely unsustainable. And if he fails, everyone will say, "I told you so".
How do we get the message over to senior managers, who should know better, and trustees who need to learn to know better? The message that effective, sustainable fundraising takes time, money, effort and bags of support from the whole organisation. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up to fail again and again.
I'm doing a session at the DSC on Monday 25th January, so come along and hear more and if you disagree tell me why!