INSTITUTE OF FUNDING: Invest in staff training to ease post-holiday blues

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

More and more organisations are relying on voluntary income. The current economic climate means that more fundraising effort is needed just to stand still. It's a debateable point but there are those who argue that fundraisers are more in demand when times are tough than when the good times roll. One thing that is certain is there is a continuing shortage of proven quality fundraisers.

This has a variety of impacts. First, if you have a good quality fundraiser on your team, you need to do everything possible to keep them. Replacing them is going to cost a lot, cause a hiccup in your fundraising, create a loss of continuity with vital contacts and supporters, and mean you need to get diverted into a major interviewing process when you really don't have the time.

Many of the Institute's members are regional fundraisers spread all over the UK. Recruiting a new fundraiser away from the major areas of employment adds to the difficulties. Relocation packages have not made a large appearance in the voluntary sector so far. Such regional staff are doubly important.

They might not be raising as much as a London-based corporate fundraiser, but they are probably harder to replace.

Many organisations are waking up to the need to think more strategically about these problems. You cannot just pay more - although it might help as a sticking plaster remedy.

Survey after survey shows professional development and challenge as more important to most staff. That isn't to say that pay will not be a major issue if it isn't right, but more that a little bit more doesn't make that much difference in the long term. What does make a difference is being supported and continuing to learn and develop. Against all the costs of replacing somebody, training and personal development are effective options.

Professional training

For the past 18 months the Institute has been working to provide increased access to high-quality professional development opportunities.

We currently have a variety of routes to support fundraisers to work towards the Certificate in Fundraising Management. These range from formal training run by the Fundraising Programme and the Projects Company through to more academic programmes offered by partner universities (Sheffield Hallam and South Bank).

The latest route is intended for those whose work and/or personal circumstances rule out more traditional study methods. With substantial funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation, we have linked up with the Open University to completely rewrite and update the Winning Resources and Support programme.

It doesn't matter where you are, this course with its electronic resources and support via the internet will enable access to the certificate. For those returning to study after a period of time the tutorial support early in the course will help you to get started.

The course consists of six workbooks in three equal blocks of study.

'You and Your Organisation' is an overview of the roles and responsibilities of fundraisers. 'Key Techniques and Relationships in Winning Resources' covers participative fundraising and events management and 'Strategic Approaches to Winning Resources' examines how best to use key assets to expand your resource base.

The emphasis of the whole programme is on integrating theory and concepts with your own experience. The content is firmly routed in reality.

The recruitment agencies say this is the quiet time of the year, leading up to the storm of post summer holidays. People tend to reflect on their lives when lying on the beach and a higher number than normal decide to change their jobs.

Why not get in there first and plant the idea about returning to face the fresh challenge of making them a better fundraiser. There are currently more than 400 fundraisers who hold the certificate and another 600 registered.

Add to this those who have reached senior positions before the certificate was developed and there is a lot of competition out there.

For more information on our training providers, call the training department at the Institute of Fundraising on 020 7627 2806.

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