The first cohort on the University of Chichester’s undergraduate degree, the Charity Development BA (Hons), has graduated. The event took place at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
The course was set up in 2014 by Donna Day Lafferty, who has worked in fundraising for 20 years. It was the world’s first undergraduate degree in fundraising for charity. Other institutions in the UK and internationally offer postgraduate degrees in fundraising and related disciplines, but until now none offered any courses at undergraduate level.
Who are the new graduate fundraisers?
Donna Day Lafferty says that at least half the applicants to the degree have spent time volunteering for a charity, and often overseas.
They certainly have a diverse background. The graduands last Monday included a bomb disposal expert and a dancer.
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The course included work placements and practical projects. Brogan Rehill, a volunteer for Chichester homeless charity Stone Pillar, indentified over £10,000 in Gift Aid income during her final year project. She is now Head of Operations at UK Harvest.
Stacey Addison realised fundraising was the career for her when raising funds for a small charity in Tanzania. During her work experience with My Sisters House she wrote and fundraising strategy and developed its website. She has gone straight into a role in the Trusts and Major Donors team at MIND.
Why an undergraduate course?
Day Lafferty explained why she set up the BA (Hons) in Charity Development. She said that “it was clear to me that fundraising needed to professionalise. The way we ask people for support is far more sophisticated than back when I started.”
She added: “if it’s done well it results in people being asked to help solve problems they care about, and we know that most people only give when they are asked and that research shows that positive giving experiences make people happier.”
The three years in which the individuals took the course coincided with some of the greatest challenges faced by the profession in decades, following criticism of some charities and some of their methods. Day Lafferty argues that the course fits the needs of the profession and of charities even more, given how fundraisers and charities have had to rise to these challenges.