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Time for fundraising teams to get flexible?

08 Jan 2013 Voices

The new year could pose the perfect opportunity to break down barriers within, muses Celina Ribeiro.

The new year could pose the perfect opportunity to break down barriers within, muses Celina Ribeiro.

New year, fresh start. That’s what they say, isn’t it? But with the clock ticking over to 2013, how much actually has changed? It’s still cold, it remains dark, and a little bit of Christmas ham is holding out in the back of the fridge.

As for fundraising, how much will change this year? Our survey of the directors of fundraising at the top 100 charities by voluntary income seems to suggest that keeping income levels steady is the biggest priority in 2013. Not overhauls or massive growth. Keeping things afloat.

And when times are hard, innovating or risk-taking is no doubt difficult. Even taking the time out to think about why a charity does a certain thing in a certain way feels rather impossible. Impossible, perhaps; important, surely. I spoke to Cancer Research UK’s director of fundraising Richard Taylor and found a man committed to fresh thinking.

One thing stood out: fundraisers in his team are not stuck in their boxes. Corporate fundraisers might get moved to the innovation department. Legacy fundraisers might pop over to direct giving. Silos – those hulking beasts that fundraisers so often complain about – are non-existent in Taylor’s fundraising department. As a result staff are kept interested and supporters are dealt with by people who understand the many ways they might interact with the charity, and why. Fundraising people and disciplines are let fly from their pigeonholes.

Not everything about Cancer Research UK is – or should be – replicable in other charities. But this idea could work in many organisations. Perhaps in 2013, a useful resolution might be to look within the fundraising department and ask, ‘Why do we do it like this?’ Worry about the ‘how’ later. 

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