Guest blog by Ikhlaq Hussain MSc MInstF
My blog post last month on ‘How “passionate belief” can help you raise more money’ caught a lot of attention, including the attention of experts in the sector. One of the experts, a fundraiser, asked me this question in particular, “Hi Ikhlaq, I have read your latest blog. Is there any advice regarding how we can help our fundraising teams to connect with the cause?” Today I share some points used in my replies in a blog post called 5 ways to connect fundraisers with the cause.
1. Take serious interest in your work: don’t wait to be inspired
Many people say you are either passionate or not and you can’t help fundraisers to develop the connection with the cause and inspire them to believe in the work they do. I would respectfully disagree with that notion and say that it’s not entirely true, as the more we get involved and take interest in our work, the more we will be connected with our cause.
We cannot just wake up one day with a passionate belief in our cause. Passionate belief does takes time, work and requires serious interest from the individual and we must encourage that within our fundraising teams.
Unfortunately, we can’t buy ‘passion and inspiration’ and sprinkle it over the fundraisers.
2. Meet the Trustees or founders
Regular meetings with your founders or trustees will help you to lighten your inspiration. Why not send an email to one of your trustees and ask them if they would like to grab a cup of coffee at some point? Tell them that you want to learn more about why they got involved with the organisation. What was the inspiration behind starting the organisation in the first place?
It is always energising to go back to the history of your organisation and find out directly from the founders or the current trustees, not from the website.
One of the founding trustees of Orphans In Need once said to me: “We aspire to provide the best support to the orphans who are in our care. We need to treat these orphans like our children because they rely on us and they have no one in the world to go to. We must not only provide them food on the table, however, the best food on the best table. Not just education, however, but the best available education in their communities.”
That level of care and thought for the orphan children really inspired me and got me closer to the vision and mission of the organisation.
3. Coffee meetings with your Programme Teams
Make friends with your ‘Programme Team’: take them for coffee. Meet regularly with your programme teams, as this really helps to connect with the cause. They can tell you lots of stories of how your organisation is making an impact and how they feel when they meet beneficiaries.
I am privileged that my desk is next to the programmes team and thus always ask them about their stories, especially when they return from monitoring and evaluation trips in different countries. It is always satisfying and fulfilling to know that our efforts are changing the lives of orphan children and how much more we need to do to achieve more.
4. Seeing is believing
As a fundraiser, we are always busy with endless lists of things to do. We are often caught up in what we do every day that we never have time actually to visit the great work our organisation is delivering on the ground.
When we meet the beneficiaries we can see firsthand how our efforts as a fundraiser are changing lives. Field visits always help to collect your own stories and get inspired.
5. Ask your donors why the cause matters to them
According to a recent report by IOF, nearly three in five people (59%) said the main reason they had given money was it was a cause they believed in. Most of the donors have a personal connection to the cause. Sometime our donors have more inspiring reasons behind their ‘giving’ decision.
From my experience, donors are always willing and happy to share what your cause means to them. For example, a donor told me a moving story about her mother who was an orphan when she was young and how much of a tough life she had which inspired him to support a children’s charity.
Asking donors why the cause matters to them have a two-fold benefit. First, your donors feel you are genuinely interested in them and not only in their pockets, which helps to develop a meaningful relationship. Secondly, their attachment to the cause helps us as a fundraiser to get inspired and connect with our cause.
Ikhlaq Hussain is a philanthropy and high-end events specialist, currently head of major gifts at Orphans In Need, a trustee at Mind in Harrow, Board member at IOF (South East & London), mentor at IOF and Mosaic Enterprise Challenge, and a regular blogger on the topic of fundraising.