The Third Sector needs First-Class People

6 June 2010 | By Cause4 staff

Never in the history of modern Britain has the charitable sector been so important. We hear more and more about the emergence of social enterprises and new charities by the day (alongside the 168,000 charities that are already registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales). As Government talks about partnership with the charitable and voluntary sector, you can be certain that the pace with which new organisations materialise will not slow down.

As the charitable sector professionalises in recognition of the importance of operating like any well-run business, the need to attract and retain the services of high-quality staff is paramount. The sector might be referred (perculiarly) as the Third Sector, but it needs First-Class People, those with wit, nous and intuition, with people skills, a strategic brain and a capacity for hard work.

But who are these people and from where will they come? Most of us who have found our ways into charities and into development and fundraising, have done so by accident rather than design. While pondering our futures at university or wherever, the idea just never occurred. What’s more, we suppose that for the vast majority of the nation the prospect of a career in development and fundraising has likewise never occurred, a career which can offer the most rewarding possibilities in every sense.

But how to get started? Whilst there are development and fundraising qualifications - and also specific strands teaching fundraising within some Masters programmes - these focus, we would argue, too heavily on the theory of fundraising and insufficiently upon the practice. We believe that there is absolutely no substitute for hands-on experience that will enable a new energetic and dynamic group of fundraisers to learn how to think strategically, how to develop projects and programmes which will deliver social outcomes, how to build relationships and develop good instincts by working alongside those with a few years – and a bit of success – under their belts.

At Cause4 we believe that a holistic approach to training is required – something that provides vital exposure to both art and science. This could involve pairing up potential or novice fundraisers with a range of social enterprises and charities where they can learn on the job whilst simultaneously receiving one-to-one guidance, thus allowing a new generation of fundraisers to rise through the ranks.

We are passionate about the need for this type of scheme – watch this space for further ideas ....all coming soon.

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"The course was informative, enjoyable, covering plenty of ground in just one day without feeling rushed at all. It came at a crucial time in our planning and thinking as a development team and was a very welcome pause for thought. Michelle was a brilliant facilitator and it was a real benefit to hear about her experiences across the sector."

Jane Reynolds, Development Manager, Manchester International Festival

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