I took my first steps in fundraising over twenty years ago. I’d left an account management role with a UK advertising agency and jumped into a $30,000,000 campaign for the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Australia. It was a memorable way to cut my teeth in a new sector. Eighteen months later, the campaign reached its target and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to capital fundraising and the power of philanthropic giving.
Later, when I took a sideways step into Education, the skills I’d gained as a campaign manager served me really well. Training staff, co-ordinating in-house fundraising appeals and delivering student well-being programmes, often meant drawing on my experience of running capital campaigns. Identifying someone’s deepest motivations for believing in a project or wanting to give money to it, makes for more sensitive and successful fundraising. In a similar way, understanding what’s driving someone’s career aspirations or improving their emotional outlook, makes for better institutional health. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I also think my degree in theology was an early marker for the work I’m doing now. Back then, I was fascinated by what made people want to stake their life on something. Not many of our clients would describe their ambitions with quite that level of intensity, but their commitment to a particular cause is often just as compelling.
At Gifted, I’m lucky enough to be working with some visionary clients; people who trust us to tell their story and have faith in our ability to help them deliver inspirational results. To borrow from my theology background again, I’d argue this only happens when fundraising fundamentalism is put to one side. Listening to your questions and steering your enthusiasm along the most direct path towards potential major gifts, are the signature strengths of a Gifted partnership.