INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Sector awards are a great way to reward your staff

LINDSAY BOSWELL, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

One thing fundraisers always pride themselves on is celebrating success. More than almost any other part of the sector, fundraisers can measure success through their targets and goals.

But I believe we are really quite poor at recognising and celebrating the achievements of our staff and those around us. Take the level of nominations for awards, for example. You would have thought that an award that recognised excellence in volunteer or regional fundraising teams would be swamped with entries. Surely this is an easy way to show staff that they have not only been appreciated but that those faceless people in head office think they are worthy of being nominated for an award.

I know that getting together the necessary evidence and filling out the application forms takes time and commitment, but it doesn't take that much effort. And think about the rewards. The recent awards made in Scotland and the North-East groups will do more for the morale and spirit of those who were short listed or won than any inflation level pay rise, not that the two are mutually exclusive, you understand.

Currently there are lots of different award schemes including our own set run jointly with Professional Fundraising (applications in the spring of 2003 please). However, I want to single out one set of awards that are currently asking for nominations and challenge you to look at nominating some area of your work over the Christmas period. I have singled out these awards because, unlike many of the others, they go way beyond just the sector. These are the annual sponsorship awards organised by Hollis Publishing.

Why these awards are really interesting for fundraising is because we have a huge amount to learn. I have judged for the past two years and it is clear that charities look at sponsorship in a totally different way to the rest of what can only be called a huge industry.

The whole emphasis in the world of sport or the arts is to ensure that the sponsor gets what they need out of the relationship and so, surprise surprise, they ensure that they repeat the sponsorship again and again.

Charities are more inclined to show the sponsor what a wonderful difference their sponsorship made to the cause or the stakeholders.

Nice warm feelings for the sponsor but no repeat funding the next year.

Getting a sponsor on board is a real labour of love and hard work. Developing that relationship is easier than the first date.

My point is that we have a great deal we can learn from other fields and sponsorship is one of them. We all learn if we take part and I would love to see a good strong field of charity nominations next year to match some of the best that the world of sport has to offer.

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