Are Australian fundraisers becoming too specialist?

Is it just me or are we professional fundraisers becoming pigeon holed? We seem to increasingly work in silos and frankly I think we just need to get out a bit more!

In July, literally on my birthday, I presented to the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Major Gifts Special Interest Group in Melbourne. In many ways it was my best birthday present because I used to chair the group and because I just love major gift fundraising; it’s as if I was born for it. Anyway, the topic I was asked to present on was ‘Before and After the Ask’, that’s Asking for a major gift personally, professionally and passionately; I really do love it you see.

For those of you steeped in major gift fundraising you will realise that I was asked to present on two key steps in The Art of Asking process. But I have a confession to make, and for which I now duly apologise to anyone who attended my presentation and thought I was actually going to limit my presentation to those two essential parts of the major gift Asking process.

To test my gut feeling that fundraisers are becoming increasing differentiated from each other, in the sense that major gifts practitioners are working in isolation from direct response, social media, event and even bequest practitioners, I decided to do something quite radical for my presentation … no PowerPoint presentation!! No, just a whiteboard.

For my presentation I asked some of the experienced major gift fundraisers in the room to help me draw some of our professions best practice fundraising paradigms. So we created on the whiteboard a Donor Pyramid, a Circle of Giving, three Distribution of Giving Pyramids and even touched on the donor Life Time Value equation.

Throughout the session I posed two questions in respect of each of the paradigms we had drawn. Firstly, what areas on the paradigm were part of the major gift process and secondly, in respect of the organisation where you work NOW ….. how is the Art of Asking (for major gifts) process integrated with the other parts of the paradigm, as part of a Total Development fundraising Program?

I observed that most fundraisers in the session could contribute the first question, very few to the second one.

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