Some of the best people in the fundraising sector, in my opinion, have come from doing marketing in the for profit world. But lots of people also come into the sector from often large commercial brands and, to put it politely, don’t do all that well running fundraising operations. I think we can all think of examples of both sorts..
One of the reasons that people from other sectors make mistakes in fundraising is that they don’t understand some of the quirks of our funny little business. And one of those counter-intuitive things about fundraising is that people don’t actually have to have heard about your charity before to respond to a fundraising ask. I’ve lost count of the times I’m been told by smart, senior people with a marketing background in some famous company that the first thing <insert name of non-profit here> must do is get our name out or raise awareness of the cause. Only then should we start asking for money. So let’s start with a big awareness raising campaign (hey, maybe we could get an ad agency to do it for free!)
Sorry but that’s bollocks basically. The first thing any non-profit should do is fundraise. When you fundraise you tell people about your cause, you make them care about it and they give you money as a result. And do you know what, you raise money and awareness too. It’s amazing, isn’t it?