"Mummy, did you have a toy tool box when you were a child?"
"Because I didn't want to be a builder"
"Oh.....................................so did you have a toy fundraising kit?"
It was as I was recounting this conversation to a friend later that we started discussing what would go into this toy fundraising kit? What do you need to become a great fundraiser? With a background in community fundraising, events and volunteering here is what I would put in mine:
- Telephone - for all those supporters that you need to speak to. Whether it's trying to persuade people to sign up for an overseas trek, booking their shift for a bucket collection, catching up with your local fundraising group or giving tips on how to make the most of a fundraising event. It is always much better to try and speak to your supporters wherever possible and build a personal relationship with them and of course you cannot do this without a phone.
- Internet - I'll be honest here, I'm of the generation that can't understand how offices worked before the internet or how anything got done! From promoting your events and activities on social media, to webinars on the latest fundraising techniques, research on community groups in your target area to getting in touch with local newspapers and radio stations to get support for your campaigns the internet is essential to everything we do and people expect you to have a good online presence these days.
- Good memory - relationship building is the key to most areas of fundraising and remembering little things about your supporters makes all the difference. For example Barbara is going to be on holiday during your big appeal so don't keep calling to check if she's supporting you, or Bob's daughter was affected by your cause which is the reason he supports you so he's interested in any updates on the service side of your organisation. If you get to know your supporters as people rather than another number then you will have a better relationship with them and it will be easier when you want to ask them to do something for you.
- Tenacity - we've all had events and campaigns which aren't the instant success we would like them to be, but you can't give up at the first hurdle. So review your marketing plans, get a fresh pair of eyes on it and keep on pushing and trying. With hard work and a little bit of luck you may well turn it around and make the money you need for the all important budget.
- Thick skin - there are a LOT of charities out there, so it stands to reason that you may well not be working for the preferred charity of all the people you meet and if you work for a charity with an 'unsexy' or even at times unpalatable or unpronounceable cause this is likely to be exacerbated. You may well find you get a lot more no's before you get a yes, but don't take it to heart. Sit down, evaluate whether you went in with the right approach, were you passionate enough? Did you give all the information you needed to? Did you have an interesting proposal? If you didn't, then fix your approach for next time, and if you did, then chalk it up to experience and try again. Eventually you will get a yes!
- Big smile - this is needed for at least three reasons....1. When you meet potential or existing supporters you will look more friendly and approachable. 2. when you land that big donation, or hit your target for London marathon runners or whatever it is that worked for you today, then you can go home with a big smile on your face knowing that your hard work will have a direct impact on someone who needs the support of your charity. And finally 3. being a fundraiser is a great, varied and fun job that can inspire you every day to get out of bed and who wouldn't want to smile at that?