Fundraising know-how sought by majority at IFC's First Friday

Last week I attended IFC’s First Friday Fundraising sessions and was interested to note that the same questions seemed to be coming from a wide range of organisations.

The idea of the sessions is for any charity team members to come along for free and ask questions of the gathered experts as well as of each other. The paln was for a drop in/drop out discussion but the majority of attendees seem to stay and listen to others’ issues and questions as well.  This in turn seemed to reinforce the old adage that we learn as much from other attendees at meetings as we often do from the experts (in this case John Baguley, David Marfleet and yours truly).

Or is it just about solidarity in tough times? Positive either way, I feel.

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Whilst the names will remain confidential to protect the innocent, charities in attendance ranged from multi-million pound organisations to small community projects serving beneficiaries in a number of countries and across various causes.  But, in spite of the apparent diversity, we ended up discussing the same issues of building and implementing an effective fundraising strategy for pretty much every attendee.

The surprise for me was not that all parties are struggling to fundraise as effectively in the current recession, but that fundraising within their organisations simply isn’t taken seriously as a discipline or a strategic function.  How exactly do founders, field teams, trustees and other service providers think the services are actually enabled?  Does the money for the electricity bill get found behind a sofa or desk?

Forgive the flippancy but until charity leadership teams accept that fundraising is a key means to their noble ends rather than a necessary evil, their organisations will continue to struggle.

For my part, I now have a better appreciation of how the same challenges manifest themselves across a wide range of organisations and the resultant importance of strong advice and personal development in this area. Neither will I be taking smart, effective fundraising ideas for granted any time soon (as if I could).

PS. If anyone is interested in helping a founder to build an organisation which seeks to provide innovative play areas in deprived parts of the world, just let me know. The fact that local communities are involved in the projects, run the simple building aspects using locally sourced labour and materials and benefit from the end results made for a truly compelling case.

Kevin Baughen is the founder of Bottom Line Ideas and works with charities to ensure their marketing and communications activities deliver maximum, real-world benefit.

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