At Work: Fundraising - Opinion - You must use your skills to help the developing world

Simon Collings, chief executive of Resource Alliance

UK-based fundraisers can assist voluntary groups in the developing world by mentoring and sharing their skills and experience.

When I tell people that I help to train fundraisers in Asia and Africa, they often say to me in disbelief: "What, you mean African fundraisers, raising money in Africa?"

In fact, there are growing numbers of charity fundraisers throughout the so-called developing world.

Niharika, a young woman from Bangladesh, recently told me about a gala dinner and celebrity auction she had organised in Dhaka with many foreign diplomats, UN staff and business people as guests - a highly professional event.

Vacancies

Fundraisers such as Niharika are still rare in countries such as Bangladesh, and there is a desperate need for more of them. Habitat for Humanity has been trying for almost a year now to fill two fundraising vacancies in its Latin America office.

Large international organisations such as the Red Cross try to meet the skill shortage by running their own internal skill-share workshops. Many smaller organisations need this sort of help.

UK-based fundraisers can do a lot to help, and can have a lot of fun in the process.

Concern and the World Society for the Protection of Animals recently hosted an Indian fundraising trainer as an intern for several weeks. It was an enriching experience for her and for them.

Even if your charity doesn't work internationally, you can still help by supporting developing world charities that work on similar issues - cancer care or environmental protection, for example.

As well as hosting visitors in the UK, British charities could also help by lending staff to developing world charities, or fundraisers could volunteer in their own time. Even a few days spent reviewing a direct mail programme or a sponsored event can result in significant improvements and increased income.

The Delhi-based education NGO Deepalaya has benefited from external coaching that helped it build its donor base. With email and Skype you don't even have to travel to provide mentoring support.

Motivation

From personal experience I believe the extra motivation UK fundraisers get from providing help and support to others far outweighs the time involved.

It is hard to hold on to good fundraisers, and offering opportunities to engage with charities elsewhere in the world can be a good way of retaining staff.

Civil society organisations are mushrooming and have much to contribute to solving the world's social and environmental problems.

There is a great deal of wealth in Asia and Latin America, and even in Africa, which could be mobilised to support these organisations. But we need more professional fundraisers to enable that to happen. Will you help?

AND ANOTHER THING ...

Resource Alliance is a registered charity. As well as organising the annual International Fundraising Congress in Holland, it also works to boost the resources of not-for-profit organisations in the developing world by encouraging charities to share their skills.

The Guy Stringer Development and Bursary Fund has been operated by Resource Alliance since 2002. The fund pays for delegates from the developing world to attend the International Fundraising Congress.

GiveIndia, an umbrella organisation that certifies NGOs and collects donations on their behalf, is working with Resource Alliance on a plan to bring several Indian fundraisers to London on a fact-finding tour.

VSO is looking for experienced fundraisers to work on a voluntary basis with grass-roots organisations across Africa and Asia. The charity says it has vacancies with overseas partner organisations in countries such as Zambia and India.

Fundraisers who are interested in mentoring a peer abroad can email simon@resource-alliance.org for more information.

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