Goodness, its mid-February already and I haven’t blogged yet. I’ve been busy, and lots has happened, so perhaps a short blog on fundraising is due - overdue! So here's my account of yesterday's conference.
I attended ‘Fundraising Live’ – an opportunity for fundraising professionals to get together and share best practice, network and see what’s innovating in the sector. It’s not just ‘another conference’ – I find real value in attending events like this where the content is from peers, not just suppliers and ‘look at mes’.
Two presentations really stood out to me yesterday – the first was from Plan International who realised that the expense and emotional commitment of sponsoring a child meant that it was costing more and more to recruit individuals for sponsorships. They did some really in depth research that helped them identify a lower cost proposition that would increase sign up and, of course, mean more money for their cause – children in poverty.
Some might argue that spending money on research is taking donors’ money and not spending it on the children, but in fact what they have learned means that more money will reach the children in the longer term. As a sector we can’t spend 100% of donors’ money on beneficiaries – if we do we won’t improve, increase our effectiveness and help those who need it most. The money would quickly run out.
The second interesting presentation was from Greenpeace. They have used Virtual Reality to give people a sense of what it’s really like in environments like the Arctic and the rainforest. Amazing! With causes that deal with issues that are so far removed from our daily lives, something like this is a tremendous way to help bring people nearer to the cause and really understand why their help is needed. And it resulted in more sign ups to support too.
Sometimes people complain that fundraising is turning into just another profession – that it’s full of people who are in it for the career, and the money (really?), and complain that highly skilled, specialists get paid for what they do. All I can say is that without us, picking up what the government has dropped (so many people I spoke to worked in social care, have lost funding, and are desperately trying to serve people in dire need), and taking notice and making a difference where it’s truly needed, then we would all notice very quickly indeed.
Running a charity, working for a charity, is a demanding and thoroughly difficult job, and it’s getting harder. Yet we all want to do it – because it is so rewarding.
The final comment that struck home was about taking care of fundraisers. We have a high turnover and we have a high ‘burnout’. This isn’t an easy profession, but together we change the world and make it a better place. A day at a conference is not a waste of donor’s money – it’s helping to achieve that change that we all want to be. I love my job, and I'm not ashamed of being paid to do it.
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