Anna Taylor: Seek out inspiration from your peers

We all need regular exposure to work by others to keep our creative cogs well oiled, writes our columnist

Anna Taylor
Anna Taylor

One of the things that has always warmed my heart is the way people in the charity sector are so willing to share their knowledge for the greater good.

When I've needed help from experienced, specialist fundraisers I've always been overwhelmed by their generosity. The chief executive of one charity impressed me by saying he had a policy of always taking time to talk to people from smaller organisations who were seeking help; he then gave me an hour, spent explaining how his organisation's child sponsorship programme worked.

Creative cogs

We all need regular exposure to excellent work by others to keep our creative cogs well oiled. Talking to fellow fundraisers can foster your passion for hunting out ideas that enable you and your organisation to have a major positive impact on the world. If you are isolated as the sole fundraiser for a small charity, searching out these conversations is essential.

Training events should not be about the training alone, but also about meeting others who face similar challenges and discovering how they overcome them.

Don't let the cost be an excuse for not doing this. There are plenty of free or affordable training options out there, such as the annual Charities and Associations Exhibition. Time spent attending seminars and talks to get your brain cells firing is a worthwhile investment for you and your charity.

Online discussion

LinkedIn's specialist fundraising groups also provide a wonderful opportunity for enlightening discussion, at any time. Your partner might not be fascinated to hear the details of your latest bright idea over dinner, but there are others who will be, and who are better placed to help you identify all its possible applications and permutations.

Reading can lead to 'eureka' moments. One of the best websites for this is Sofii.org, the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration. This wonderful resource has examples of superb fundraising campaigns, and you can search it by cause or fundraising technique.

It's also worth looking beyond what fundraisers are already doing by thinking about brilliant marketing ideas from the private sector: could you adapt such innovations to something that will help to bring about a better world?

If you have come up with the next big thing, or even a more modest but nevertheless useful innovation, don't keep it to yourself. You can play your part in maintaining the sector's tradition of mutual support and cooperation by uploading examples of your best work to Sofii, so that your brainchild helps as many people as possible.

Anna Taylor is a freelance fundraiser, writer and researcher and a former UK director of Child in Need India

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