The Guardian’s Confessions of a Charity Professional is a series that is irritating for a number of reasons. The device of an anonymous author creates an implication that our sector is so oppressive that individuals can’t speak their minds without dreadful consequences. Really? Are there no charity professionals who express opinions freely under their own names. I mean, you’ve looked at the internet, right?
Then the articles themselves are well, basically a bit whiny. The latest is a case in point. Now, you’d have thought I’d be the first person to applaud Fundraisers deserve respect from charity colleagues. And I do, of course, agree with the sentiment. Too many organisations in our sector treat their fundraisers as (at best) a necessary evil. And far too many people in leadership positions in charities, boards and CEOs, take too little responsibility for the vital task of raising funds to make sure that the good work happens. And fundraising becomes disconnected from the rest of the charity with really unhelpful results. I’ve said all this before and it’s perfectly true.
But the problem with articles like the Guardian one is that they perpetuate the idea that the fundraisers take no responsibility for their relationship with the rest of the organisations. Pity poor us who nobody likes. Let’s all moan about it. And shut the doors to the bunker.
The problem isn’t that everyone is being mean to the poor fundraisers. It’s organisational silos. The idea that each part of the charity doesn’t share the same objectives and understand what everyone else is trying to achieve. Silos are principally a failure of leadership. But they are also the fault of the staff in them. people who complain that no one understands or values their work who don’t make the effort to get to know the work of other teams or build relationships with them. You want understanding? Then, you know, show some.
Fundraisers need to work even harder than everyone else in a charity to understand the work that they are trying to sell and build the internal relationships to make that work. That might not be especially fair, maybe. But it’s the job.
You can be Millwall if you like and revel in how no one else likes you. And how they are wrong. But, then Millwall never won anything.