Legacy Fundraising – friend not foe

Howard Lake | 20 May 2008 | Blogs

As I shared the results of my straw poll on what the admin and fundraising tribe thought of each other, I was greeted with resignation and a bit of mirth…
I was speaking at the annual ILM (Institute of Legacy Management) conference in London last week. My session was entitled Legacy Fundraising – Friend not foe and was at the end of a long day of legal case studies and admin business, interrupted by lunch and an hours bomb scare. My poll was conducted entirely unscientifically. I asked Legacy Administrators and Legacy Fundraisers to tell me their first words to describe each other – and not surprisingly they reverted to some old standards. What was surprising was how much they focused on what the differences were, rather than on what bound us together. And there was one thing that did seem common – fear. But actually fear around only 4 things, big things granted – losing money, losing people, breaking the law and loss of reputation. Surely there was a way we could all sleep better at night?
So I shared 3 steps we could all do together. Firstly, if fear is one thing that holds us together, then why not find a way to reduce it. Managing risk isn’t complicated. How about a common risk management process? A risk register worked on by everyone? A PR plan to address the bad press story we all dread? And what about providing some training for everyone in each others worlds? Secondly, leadership and integration. Who is actually in charge? Where does responsibility truly sit? If there is a tug of war between marketing and admin, then the organisation loses. Both must play a part but not at each others expense, which is why Fundraising Directors and CEO’s need to lead and integrate. Not rocket science but often not done. Thirdly, language and approach. Which means, stopping legal jargon to the donor (and staff) and using plain language we all understand. It means using common principles and measuring the same things together. It means defining an organisational approach that is shared and within which everyone operates.
And finally, the really important common things that bind us are the donor and the cause, great service and how we change the world together. Rather than focus on an old view that’s plain wrong and sometimes saps the will to live, lets raise our sights to stuff that gets us out of bed in the morning and gets us talking and doing – together