What is a Fundraiser

After two years of trying I finally landed my dream job as Community Fundraiser at Maggie’s Cancer Care in Edinburgh, The Lothians and Borders. (also Dumfries & Galloway!)

I’ve learned a lot on the past 8 weeks and I am sure it’s only the beginning but there are a two main things that have continued to rear their heads.

One is the amount of people I meet that want my job, it makes me feel very fortunate to be in a job which is in such high demand and I feel even prouder that I managed to stand out during the interview process.

The other thing that I am always asked is whether or not the job is full time or just something on the side.

What do these two things add up to? Well I think it comes down to people not really knowing what is involved in being a professional fundraiser. As I said at the start of the post, I have been learning so much over the past two months and I have a long way to go, I don’t however feel that fundraising is something you ever master, yes you can have specific messages and dynamic approaches to it but I believe that to be successful you must always be ahead of the game and willing to learn.

Our director of Fundraising wrote a post on what makes a someone a successful fundraiser and I think he has pretty much nailed it with this post.

Let me know what you think! Simple when you think about it but at the same time much more challenging that many people believe.

I once saw a job description for a fundraiser that was 7 pages long. The only thing they didn’t want to know in the person spec was their DNA.

Pages of specifics are not what’s required to find a great fundraiser. In the map we think we build for ourselves of roles, tasks, descriptions, specifications, must have’s and desirables its easy to get lost in what really matters. Some of us need the comfort of a checklist. Others find the flush of instinct and the flutter of your heart is all that’s needed. We wrestle with the experienced but frankly wrong candidate , the inexperienced and still wrong candidate and the bright spark of hope,  with no experience but all the potential. When we look at them do we see the example we want to see, the moment of warmth yet determination, the getting it bit, the confidence they can run and walk and stop when they need to and to move something on, to not just deliver but exceed?. Do we see the conscientious individual – able to wash up at the end of the evening rather than leave someone else with the mess? Some will score on the list. Some will score in the heart. Some will score in both.

Take a step back and secretly write down this list. If you are looking for a great fundraiser do you see these qualities? Some or all? A good mix maybe? The potential? The core that fits your team and the talent you can build with. And if you are a fundraiser or want to be, do you see these qualities in you? How would you make them shine?

So here are my 10 essential qualities of a great fundraiser…

  1. An inspirer– understands, harnesses and uses passion, connected to the cause, has a vision and a light
  2. An artist – sees the role and themselves as art, a beautiful thing, crafted and enjoyed
  3. An organiser – of themselves and others and gets things done, plans, see ahead, in front and behind, on time , records stuff that matters
  4. An interpreter – translates needs, desires and language to make things possible, hears more than speaks
  5. A connector – brings people together, finds networks, connections, openings, opportunities
  6. A story-teller – captivating others with the art of telling and listening to stories, collects them, writes them, speaks them
  7. A critic – curious, able to question, analyse, enquire, improve and refine
  8. A coach – helps make people and things better, helps others and themselves
  9. A collaborator – a team member, a gang member, a player, adds to the power of being together
  10. A builder – practical, does the job, like to roll their sleeves up , then take a step back, lean on the shovel and smile with pride

It’s a simple list. It’s not rocket science. It’s not DNA. Its human.

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About Mark Cooper

My name is Mark Cooper, I am an ultra runner, motivational speaker, expedition consultant and public relations rookie. I help people achieve greatness in their lives. For bookings or more information you can email mark@runwithmark.com
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