Now I'm sure most people would believe that they are good at their job because they work hard and have developed a skill, perhaps you have a qualification or been on a training course, perhaps you have a lifetime of experience and can turn your hand to any cause. There are of course many fundraisers who work for multiple organisations, street fundraiser and agency call staff for example. They surely can't love every cause and yet I'm sure those fundraisers are professional and effective and still work to the best of their abilities. As a freelancer/consultant I now work for different organisations all the time. I have been lucky that I have not been put in the position of whether to take a job or not based on how passionate I feel about their cause, but I think I would do a good job either way.
Yet despite knowing this, I still can't shake the feeling that passion is behind every good ask. If it were not, why do we involve service users and personal case studies in applications for funding? Why do charities spend time creating in depth briefs for the agency staff they use and why does a charity with centres across the UK send their new staff for a week immersing themselves in the experience their patients receive?
So, I'm going to assume at this point that we have all reached the conclusion together that yes, passion for your cause is important, but how can we fill our staff with it to get the very best out of them?
Here are my top tips for stirring passion in your staff:
1. Start before you employ someone - depending on your cause and how easy/difficult it is to feel passionate about, you may want to start thinking about this before you advertise for a role. Ensure your recruitment consultant knows all about your charity and what is great about it. If you are advertising on a website , ensure you include information about your charity and why people would want to support it, perhaps include a link to an inspiring video if you have one.
2. During induction - instead of sitting them in front of the charity manual/intranet for an entire day (yes, this happened to me!) fill their time with going to meet people who have been affected by your cause, or your front line staff, or the place where all the action happens. Whilst it is logistically impossible and expensive to send all staff to a project half way across the world, could you be creative and do this in another way? Can you make a video? Can they Skype a member of your project team in the field? I understand this is not the top priority of people working in extreme circumstances but coming up with some way of doing this could pay dividends in the long term.
3. Don't forget - everyone goes through bad days or patches at work, but by intermittently providing an opportunity to remind people why they are here and how important it is, you may just be able to lift people out of their funk and help them get their groove back! Remember it is much more expensive to replace staff than it is to re-inspire them.
4. Share stories - encourage staff, no matter who they are or what job title they hold to share stories they have heard about your charity that inspires them. Create an appropriate forum and start sharing.
Whilst it is possible to do a good job even if you don't love a charity, by following these steps then hopefully your staff will feel passionate and dedicated to go the extra mile and make more money for your organisation.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of managing your fundraising team then please feel free to get in touch and have a chat.