This blog series is based on a session I presented at Fundraising Everywhere’s Charity Leadership Festival alongside Desiree D’Souza, Executive Director of Social Innovation at See Ability.
In that session, available in full from Fundraising Everywhere here – and so also in this blog series, we look at what fundraising leaders and the leadership team across charities need to do to develop and implement their organisation’s fundraising strategy successfully. We consider key issues such as how to get buy in, mitigating risk, and the importance of storytelling. We also consider the importance of focusing on team wellbeing, how to focus on the bigger fundraising picture and think about the time when you will pass the fundraising baton on to your successors. The first blog, on first principles for fundraising strategy leadership is here. The second blog, on leadership in uncertain times, is here. The third blog, on the importance of storytelling, is here. The fourth blog, on what we leave behind, is here.
I know that you and I could speak for a long time about this, Richard but I think for me, I’ll just stick to the one point, because there is no getting away from it.
We are as fundraising leaders operating in incredibly challenging and uncertain times. And this role that we do, and I know that many of you out there reading this will be putting all of your effort and energy into it. It can be lonely and pressurised at times.
And I think maintaining your wellbeing in these challenging times is so hard. People will say to you to do it all the time, but it is hard and it kind of requires active work. I guess what I would say to you is, and what I am always learning, is that it’s a practice.
Do ask for help. Do pace yourself and make sure you do everything you can to exercise that leadership value around delegation.
I think this is particularly hard for leaders because when times are tough we take it on ourselves to drive and affect the outcome. But you are probably surrounded by the most amazing people, the most amazing fundraising colleagues and others outside of your department. So, find the key that unlocks your ability to delegate. And I think that makes a huge difference.
What would your takeaway be, Richard?
In terms of focus on wellbeing? I think understanding the pressure and effect on morale of setting fundraising targets that are too difficult to achieve or that the team hasn’t bought into. That’s number one.
Number two: understanding how tiring and draining the last few years have been for fundraisers, sadly.
And thirdly, it’s so important as fundraising leaders to advocate, represent and appreciate your fundraising team. And a lot of that is about helping other leaders to understand how tough it is for fundraisers right now.
So, my final thoughts and it’d be great to hear what readers of this blog series think too, are that fundraising and fundraising leadership is nothing if it’s not about achieving change, which I mentioned in an earlier blog in this series.
That’s what we’re all here for. I strongly believe that fundraising is about changing the world for the better, and what could be more motivating for leaders and indeed everyone in the sector than that?
How about you, Des?
Incredible and spot on, as usual Richard! Well that’s a hard one to follow but I guess my final thought is one of solidarity and encouragement for anyone in a fundraising leadership position or a fundraising team at the moment.
The phrase that comes to mind is “the darkest hour is just before dawn”.
I guess what I mean by that is, in the midst of the most difficult times – do the stuff you can control as best as you can. Focus on relationships with your donors and take time to really motive your teams. When you do this stuff really well, you will inspire support, and you’ll be amazed at what opportunities open up.
Of course, Richard, I’m under no illusion that times are tough and so precisely because there is so much uncertainty and challenge out there right now, this is where and how I’m choosing to focus my efforts. And I’m amazed all the time by how good things follow..
I wish the same for all the readers of this blog. If we can be of any help, you know where to find Richard or me.
Happy New Year.
Fundraising Strategy: what do leaders need to do? Blog series
Blog 2: leadership in uncertain times
Blog 3: the importance of storytelling
Blog 5: final thoughts