Does the current fundraising climate require new talent?

26 June 2010 | By Cause4 staff

We have been doing a lot of thinking recently about how to attract talent into careers in fundraising and development, and how to best arm people with the tools they need to succeed in delivering real value back to charities and social enterprises.

But how to attract talent in the first place? In order to get that experience that employers are seeking, many people volunteer in fundraising departments of national charities. This can be of mutual benefit – many charities rely on office volunteers to keep their departments running smoothly - but in order to volunteer one must have the means to live without salary, usually in London and this excludes a lot of potentially talented people who come from less privileged backgrounds.

Also, it can mean that whenever the volunteer, or indeed for those lucky enough to land paid employ, “land” in the fundraising world, that is where they will stay, ploughing a narrow furrow through one specific fundraising discipline – corporate fundraising, events or direct marketing for example - without gaining the broad range of experience which is so valuable in this increasingly tough fundraising environment.

What is required are entry level schemes which can be accessed by a diverse range of people of all ages and backgrounds, which also offers a comprehensive grounding in the various areas of fundraising as well as getting exposure to more than one charitable cause. Fundraising can’t be learned from books.

There are a few such schemes out there – Charity Works - - is a partnership of several national charities which pays participants a modest wage and combines hands on training with theoretical instruction on subjects such as managing volunteers, finance and working with local authorities.

However, with current pressures on the sector to up its fundraising game, with more charities all chasing a smaller pot of gold, excellent training schemes offering real opportunities to those with potential to make a real difference, are in short supply. There is lots of talk of crisis and cuts but we think the next question to be asked is whether we have the skills and talent in the sector able not only to weather the storm but to respond with creativity and enterprise.

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