I have just come up with a new phrase – ‘fundraising paralysis’.
Where the pressure to bring in the funds just feels too much, where I doubt the methods which make sense on paper and where I feel isolated talking a language that no one understands, marks me as a bit wild and crazy.
I like to think we all feel this and probably more often than we realise. And I pin it down that somehow we are in a field, which most of us have fallen into, no one has studied, and which we understand by pure instinct. I swear my guidance counsellor at school didn’t have fundraising on her list of careers. The list had doctors, lawyers, journalists but not the NGO sector-related careers.
So we’re already starting at a disadvantage: a murky field where our success is dependent on a lot of factors: understanding the cause, working with a supportive board and chief executive officer, an operational structure that measures and monitors the work that it does, team work among departments.
Fundraisers may be individuals, but our role is knitting together and selling the organisation. It is short-sighted to think that we work solo and that makes finding the fundraiser that’s right for you difficult. As this is more than a job description. I technically can look perfect on paper, but am I the right person for the job?
I have just come out of a wonderful meeting with funding guru Sandra Miller, who is fighting our corner. She is training boards to stop counting the pennies, encouraging them to give their fundraisers the freedoms that they need to operate on instinct, to be creative and run with things. And at the same time, working with us fundraisers, to take the murkiness out of our world, help focus our work, and I think inadvertently, knit us together because this is what she’s just done with me. By understanding my funding paralysis and telling me its okay, she’s made me feel like I’m not wild and crazy. That my instincts aren’t off track. That I shouldn't throw in the towel and hide in a dark cave for the next financial year.
We need more Sandra’s and we need more talk among ourselves to build a greater understanding of our work, our role, our mission, our value, and to build manageable expectations of what it is that we actually do.
- Kerryn Krige is Director Communications and Income Development at Child Welfare South Africa. This is written in her personal capacity and in no way represents the views of the organisation.