Getting services staff to help with fundraising

Valerie Morton offers advice on bringing together fundraisers and those working in charity services

Q: I am a fundraising director. How do I get my services colleagues to play their part in helping to raise money?

A: Hardly a day goes by without one of my clients or friends raising this very issue. Interestingly, though, for every person who is concerned about how to get colleagues involved, there is another worrying about colleagues being too enthusiastic and approaching donors without telling them. So why does this tension exist, and what can we do about it?

The first and most common reason is that service managers' expenditure budgets are often approved on the basis that the fundraising department will bring in a certain amount of income. Even in cases where fundrasing is done to provide money for specific services, unrestricted funds are often used to cover the costs until the money is raised. So the message given out, either directly or indirectly, is that once a service budget is set, permission has been given for the activity.

Second, it is not surprising that people who are delivering services often have different skills and approaches from the 'sales and marketing' people involved in fundraising. There are a number of things fundraisers might take for granted about how relationships with donors are developed and managed: the core principle is that the more you get to know a donor, the more money you will raise. But to someone who is desperate for money to fund their valuable service, meeting a potential funder is a wasted opportunity unless there is a direct ask. The implications of the 'inoculation effect' are not fully appreciated.

So is there a solution? Having tried without much success to use processes to solve the problem - for example, giving service managers credits for income raised for specific services - my conclusion is that this is a hearts-and-minds issue. Get service managers involved in fundraising so they experience the excitement of that donation coming in. And, most importantly, help them to appreciate what a difficult job fundraisers have.

When one of my clients invited a service manager to take part in a corporate fundraising training course I was running, the results were astonishing. Respect for the fundraising team soared, and joint working improved dramatically.

- Send your questions to Valerie.Morton@haymarket.com.

Valerie Morton, a trainer, fundraiser and consultant

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