Thinking about the Institute of Fundraising's convention it appears to me that the sector is in good heart and that we are maturing as a profession.
That doesn't mean that everything in the garden is rosy. We have big challenges facing us as a result of the Government's Performance and Innovation Unit review of charity law and regulation - especially in terms of defining the precise role that the Institute can play in setting standards and monitoring compliance. We've never really had disciplinary teeth in the past, but we'll need them soon.
There is, however, a bigger challenge facing us. A great deal of fundraising has taken on a "scientific
sheen, where the simple pressing of the correct buttons and pulling of the right levers will produce a favourable outcome. But we must not allow science to lull us into complacency. If fundraising is to fulfil its potential then we must not forget the passion and the heart. The passion that is the cause we represent and its the heart that motivates our donors to give. When science, passion and heart come together we should be unstoppable.
The other concern that arose for me out of the conference was the eternal hunt for new ideas. A quick look back at the past 20 years shows that every new idea is a reinvention of an existing technique usually developed initially outside the fundraising sector. This goes for direct mail, telemarketing, direct dialogue and major events.
So our skill is to become innovators, taking an idea from one plane and moving it to another. That is less risky than trying out something completely untested. We need to keep our eyes wide open for the potential of what is already going on rather than desperately seeking out the original.
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