The future of fundraising demands relevance and extraordinary!

 In #SuccessTips, Diversity, Fundraising, Newsletter

One of my favourite quotes is “he who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day; but he who is battle slain can never rise to fight again.”

And it usually comes to mind whenever I feel overwhelmed, tired, stressed or scared. I remind myself that self care and preservation are important to my emotional wellbeing.

So even though I had committed to joining the CIoF panel on the future of fundraising ages ago, I considered pulling out recently. It’s been a long year and I really didn’t fancy talking about diversity, to what I figured would be the usual suspects. 

My guess is that most of those in attendance would already be sold on the idea or at least thinking about it. Undoubtedly, some would also be doing something around equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Yet, the reality is that in 2020, much of the current systems, structures and even language in the sector are STILL designed and supported to maintain the status quo. 

It’s great that many sector leaders are engaging with these issues – but honestly, what does that translate to in real terms? 

What commitments have been made and what actual change has taken place?

Let’s make it personal  what exactly have YOU, as an individual done to make the profession more equitable, diverse and inclusive? 

And, what have YOU done, consciously or unconsciously, to maintain the status quo? 

All of us, even the most well-intentioned, the most careful, the most intelligent and well-educated – often display bias, which subtly and not so subtly undermine our commitments to equality. Are you self aware enough to recognise when that happens? Are you open to learning a better way or doing things differently?

Over the last year – have you spoken out, made it a key part of your strategy? Changed your recruitment process? Gotten training? Diversified your team? More importantly, have you committed a budget to help you on the EDI journey?

And if you have done one, some or all of these things, is that all you could have done? Could you have done more?

The strapline for the CIoF is Excellent Fundraising for a better World. Excellent Fundraising is Extraordinary fundraising – that concerns not just how much we raise, but other aspects – how we raise the funds, who’s doing the asking and even who we are asking.

Excellent fundraising, extraordinary fundraising, requires systemic change at every level, in every aspect of what we do. It requires being more uncomfortable with the status quo than with conversations that make us feel funny or guilty.

This will only be achieved when sector leaders truly commit to changing the status quo, not in words alone but in deeds. And when I say leaders, I am referring to those with grand titles as well as everyone with influence and everyone with privilege. In short, everyone. You. Me. All of us.

Excellent fundraising, extraordinary fundraising begins with the end result in mind – a profession that is diverse, inclusive and equitable. This includes trustee boards and teams that reflect this, including senior management.

When this is what inspires and drives us, it becomes easier to achieve because it shapes every strategy, every decision and every action.

When we start with the end in mind, it is so much easier to stay on the right track and to check that the steps we take are in the right direction – as individuals, teams and organisations.

Excellent fundraising for a better world, one that is diverse, inclusive and equitable, requires long term presence and dedication. It may even require risk and sacrifice, but what great mission does not?

To achieve it, you need:

  • Ambition (based on the business & moral case) “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”.
  • Action: not just policies & procedures but leadership & sustained effort, that is intentional, retains priority status and momentum. Get out of the way if necessary, make way if you have privilege and move quickly (at the speed of white)
  • Accountability: choosing to be transparent by making your KPIs, progress and failures public 

I truly believe that to be relevant and ready for the future, our fundraising must be truly excellent; it must be diverse, inclusive and equitable. 

In conclusion:

  • We are designed to be diverse, so embrace it and make the most of all its glorious benefits. 
  • We are #WorldChangers and the money we raise is only a tool to help us achieve or amplify the primary mission – a better world. One that we do not inherit from our ancestors but instead borrow from our children and their children. 
  • Ditch ordinary, it is overrated.The future demands relevance and extraordinary!
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