INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Member Viewpoint - Much has changed in fundraising since the Institute was created

Andrew de Mille, MInstF, fundraising consultant

When the Institute was established in 1983 I, as its fourteenth member, was one of a tiny number with any formal fundraising training.

Our concerns then were the need for a professional approach to our work and for structures which would allow for professional development. We sought the highest levels of integrity in an activity where trust is essential, and we were concerned about training, since there was little available except through established consultancy firms such as the one which trained me.

So what has changed? The institute has 3,500 members but charities have still not learned how to retain fundraisers for longer than between 16 and 22 months, we are a profession constantly on the move. With the consequent waste of resources, this surely reflects badly on all concerned.

In 1971, my first capital appeal, for a provincial theatre costing £600,000 - roughly around £5 million today - produced more than £300,000 in personal covenants, the balance coming from business and statutory sources. People gave their own money in spite of punitive tax levels.

In the late 70s, 'Middle England' understood about giving and was aware of the tax concessions available. People belonged, and gave, to the communities in which they lived and worked. Now we have an abundance of tax concessions, a huge range of charitable giving opportunities, and far greater wealth, yet we are increasingly selfish.

While in the 70s, our formal training concentrated on the development of leadership in giving, nowadays there are very few people who truly understand what this means. The database is king: individuals mean nothing.

It's time that pendulum swung. That is a challenge for us all.

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