We fail community fundraisers. All the time, every day, for years and years. Its time we were honest and did something about it.
I’m not saying community fundraisers are angels or perfect somehow. There’s a pretty long list of let downs you’d probably find far too often in that world. Inability to understand a spreadsheet. Convulsion at the prospect of filling a database in. Moaning about head office.
I’m generalising of course ..and probably very unfair, though I’d challenge you to not recognise a few of these or more characteristics at least somewhere nearby and recently which in itself is not good enough. Move this to one side for now. We are not all perfect. Good and bad, competent and not so is everywhere. But lets face it – its a tough job community. The front line, a real foot soldier, endless challenges, complicated requests, demanding people, conflicting priorities and expectations. It’s hard to get right with such demands. But its even harder when Community Fundraisers aren’t supported. Poor leadership, weak management, process that gets in the way rather than help is too frequent and widespread. Here are 10 specific failings;
- Having poor relationships with community fundraisers, not knowing who they are and not bothering to find out about them
- Displaying an arrogance and superiority complex
- Not understanding or having an affinity with the audience they serve
- Creating pointless rules and process
- Not hearing what’s needed and by when by the Community Fundraiser, who wants to help the supporter, and not delivering what’s needed and when, having involved everyone who doesn’t need to be involved
- Creating materials and tools for the field that don’t work, haven’t been thought through and that have nothing to do with the target audience
- Requiring reporting on things that don’t matter every 10 minutes rather than reporting the things that do
- Making the brand the principle excuse or reason to do the wrong thing or worse nothing at all
- Not taking responsibility to fix things or solve things, even when its their job and then leaving the Community Fundraiser to fix it, only to then be told off when they do because they didn’t do it right
- Not taking time to train people, not integrating, not joining up, not being part of and behaving as if Community is from another planet
This failure is in all of us. And it’s not good enough. But, failing can be good if we learn, adapt and move on. So can we do that? Are we able to be better? Probably, but only with goodwill, openness, honesty, a respect for the audience, an understanding of roles, some systems and processes that are efficient and effective, a brand that works at all levels and is pragmatic and flexible, standards that are adhered to, and above all – relationships, integration and the final two saviours – donor first and leadership.