Editorial: Without our fundraisers we'd be at a loss

Two pieces of research published this month make grim reading for fundraisers. Charity Pulse, the staff satisfaction survey by Third Sector and Birdsong Consulting, revealed that, compared with last year, fundraisers are working longer hours, are being paid less and are less satisfied with their pay and work-life balance (Third Sector Fundraising Daily, 7 July).

The survey also found that 12 per cent of fundraisers had been bullied in the past year. This finding correlates with a survey of voluntary sector members of trade union Unite, in which 43 per cent of respondents said they had been bullied in the past two years (Third Sector Online, 4 July).

The strain is showing: nationally, fundraisers are staying in their jobs for an average of 3.1 years before moving on. In London the figure is only 1.1 years.

Academic studies have reported that a rise in staff turnover tends to go with a fall in organisational performance, and it is widely held that client satisfaction also suffers when staff turnover increases; and then there are soaring recruitment costs.

It has been refreshing, then, to see a significant emphasis on valuing fundraisers at this convention.Perhaps most touching was the tribute that Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, paid to her fundraising director Gill Raikes when presenting her with the lifetime contribution award at the Institute of Fundraising National Awards on Monday night. And Save the Children was named employer of the year for its efforts to support and nurture fundraisers.

Awards schemes play an important part in thanking colleagues and recognising their achievements, which ultimately benefit the organisation and beneficiaries - as the institute's chief executive Lindsay Boswell was keen to point out in answer to critics who questioned the value of last year's ceremony.

But recognition and support need to extend to the office, too - whether that means providing training, offering flexible working or helping staff to develop.

The support of chief executives and finance directors is vital: all too often, training and recognition fall by the wayside in the name of saving costs. So the convention's Chief Executives Day on Monday and the preponderance of sessions on management are well timed.

The commitment from Paul Amadi, the new chair of the institute, to concentrate on career and professional development during his tenure will no doubt also help. With difficult economic times ahead, it is more important than ever for charities to be proud of their fundraisers - for their own sake and the sake of their beneficiaries.

  • Emma Maier is deputy editor of Third Sector

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