Who’d be a fundraiser? Another day of unrelenting UK media assault on our profession and many of us are probably wishing we’d chosen a more publicly acceptable career. Like estate agent or merchant banker. Drug dealer maybe.
It’s depressing and salutatory to see how a vendetta in the right wing tabloid press followed by the other news media. Even those who ought to be friends of the voluntary sector (we certainly give them enough money).
And unsurprising but still quite shocking how awful the charity sector has been about defending fundraisers. Where are the chief executives and the trustees in the media explaining how without fundraising there is no voluntary sector, there is no life saving and changing work? Why do I hear about large charities leaving the response to media enquiries about fundraising techniques to direct marketers low down the organisational hierarchy? Why are the responses to stories which are clearly based on skewed and biased reporting so feeble?
Why are lies not being challenged?
It’s easy to feel the injustice of all of this. It’s tempting to hunker down and wait for it all to blow over (which it will, largely). Complain about how unfair all of this and carry on largely as before.
But as I’ve said already, this really won’t do. Yes we need to be much more robust and forthright in defending what we do and how we do it. Fundraisers are good people, doing work that is vital for our society. We shouldn’t let the enemies of justice and fairness go unchallenged.
But we need to change also. Our currency is public trust and it must be defended.
So here are five things all of us can do now to increase that trust
1. Make our organisations understand fundraising. It is unacceptable that too many trustees and CEOs don’t grasp the basics of how fundraising works. We should insist that this education process takes place as a matter of urgency.
2. Take responsibility for our agencies. Visit regularly, listen to calls, go out on the streets. Understand exactly what they are doing and why. Hold them to account but, equally, defend them when they are attacked for doing what you asked them.
3. Explain, explain, explain. Proactively tell supporters what you are doing and why. Be upfront about fundraising costs, salary levels and anything else people are worried about.
4. Think long term. Some of the most irritating things some of us do are actually probably marginal activities. That additional mailing which just about makes a net return, going to every available number on the calling list. Just take a step back and think if forgoing that bit of extra income this year might not in the long term be the better choice.
5. But, above all. Show the difference. Make sure donors understand the difference they are making. See the impact of work they have funded. A bit of inconvenience or being made to feel a little uncomfortable then becomes a small price to pay if you are part of changing the world.
And keep on fundraising.