Structuring Your Fundraising Office
5 Essential Tips
- It is possible to establish a stable fundraising function with personnel already present within the structure, but it is essential that these people have the skills, motivation and availability of time necessary. Skills can be acquired through training and / or consulting courses. For this reason it is important to always start from a job description and from the profile necessary to carry out fundraising activities; only later will it be appropriate to identify and involve the most suitable people.
- It is important that the staff of the fundraising office are trained and up to date. Specific training courses can be made for the needs and starting point of the people involved, and consultancy courses can be activated that can support the office in developing activities. The ongoing updating should not be overlooked: fundraising is a dynamic subject that changes very quickly. Above all, the relationship with donors can sometimes be very demanding from an emotional and motivational point of view. For this reason, training could be of help both as a form of updating and as a motivational charge.
- Do not confuse fundraising with communication: fundraising is at the service of donors and communication is at the service of the organization. They are two interrelated activities, which cannot be separated. However, for the involvement of donors, communication alone is not enough, fundraising is also needed, that is, an invitation to donate.
- It is important to define the role and the decision-making processes that involve the fundraising office with respect to the other components of the institution. In addition to the awareness of the staff of the office itself, it is important that the rest of the offices, people, volunteers and members who “live” in the institution know what the office does, what its role is and who it does reference. It is therefore important to clearly define the position of the fundraising office in the organization chart.
- Having a fundraising office is not enough to do a good fundraising activity: it is essential to put it in the conditions to be able to work and operate in a serene and effective way. This means that the fundraising office cannot be left alone, but must be involved, listened to and integrated with the strategies of the institution, must be equipped with the working tools and the adequate budget to operate, must be supported in the definition of objectives and activities necessary that serve to achieve them.
Communication supports fundraising: it can be institutional (who we are), or service (what we do), or have fundraising as an objective (what you can do). For this reason, communication has the right to an autonomous function that deals with this issue in the round, autonomously and integrated with fundraising. Remember: doing and not saying is (almost) like not doing.
It could happen that…
- there is a high turnover of fundraisers. The fundraising activity has a high risk of burn out, that is, it is possible that the fundraiser – if kept under too much stress or not adequately trained and supported – will not hold up and in a short time may decide to give up.
- the fundraising office is isolated. The fundraising activity can be “uncomfortable” for the other components of the institution. It is a transversal activity, which affects many other functions within the institution (administrative, board of directors, communication, services, volunteers…) and requires collaboration and new ways of doing things and this is not always appreciated by those who are now rooted and used to a certain way of working.
- the fundraising office works wonderfully and is able to pursue all the expected objectives, even obtaining unexpected results. This could paradoxically create problems for all the other sectors of the organization that would risk going under stress due to the “new” speed impressed by the mass of activities (communication, relationships, new opportunities, internal relational balances) created by the fundraising office and by the feedback from outside.