After three decades of fundraising in the UK and overseas, I’ve found that having a personal insight into what it means to be a volunteer leader has strengthened the client relationships I’ve been involved in. Knowing what it means to give and what’s at stake when you invite others to share your enthusiasm for a project, has helped me to direct some transformational fundraising programmes across the Third Sector.
When I started out, I had a sense of how important major gifts fundraising was to building financial health and long-term organisational resilience. I still believe that to be the case, but I also realise that you don’t have to make a major gift to be a philanthropist. In fact, it’s a privilege that’s available to anyone who’s prepared to master their wealth, whatever its size – and direct it for the greater good.
If we believe in the importance of philanthropic giving, as a fundraising consultancy, we must be about more than just creating a transactional relationship with our clients. We need to start with a clear understanding of why volunteer leaders are motivated to fundraise. To do this, the team at Gifted foster a personal history of philanthropy by actively giving time and money to the projects or programmes we care about. In my own career, this has inspired friendships with some remarkable individuals in my local community and longstanding volunteer relationships with a number of different charities. Simply put, being a good partner to not-for-profit leaders and volunteers means appreciating the journey our clients are on and understanding the challenges they face.
Whilst the competition for gifts may seem tougher than ever, the fundamentals of successful fundraising remain the same. My experience, with clients as diverse as the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Gordonstoun School and Peterborough Cathedral, has taught me that philanthropy is inherently person-centred; it flourishes when people are encouraged to give to other people, rather than causes. As we plan for the future at Gifted, this is one truth that will continue to guide the way we do business.