News & Insight

23rd November 2020

Engaging the Next Generation of Fundraisers.

James Mudie – Client Advisor at Philanthropy Company

Recently I had the opportunity to eavesdrop on the second installment in a series of 5 Oxford University’s Careers Service talks “The only way is ethics”. It was a panel discussion aimed at helping students understand the various practical pathways they can follow in order to take up fundraising as a profession. The Careers Service, in collaboration with the Oxford Hub, had set up a new programme focused on supporting students interested in joining positive social action organisations, combining a set of workshops by experts in the field, with social action labs for the students to apply their new-found inspiration.

The panel consisted of Jess Maybanks Philanthropy and Partnerships Advisor at Brooke, Sara Fernandez CEO of Oxford Hub and Philanthropy Company’s CEO Caroline Underwood OBE.

Listening to Caroline, Sara and Jess I was reminded of how far professional fundraising has come in recent years and of the impact fundraising has had on the causes we as a society care about. Not much these days can be achieved without funding.

What I found most encouraging as well as comforting, however, came from a progression of the discussion on how to become a fundraiser to why become a fundraiser in the first place? Fundraising is a multi-disciplined profession with specialisms determined by individual skills and abilities on the one hand and being devoted to a specific cause on the other.

But whatever the journey, a fundamental requirement to entering the world of philanthropy and the third sector industry and a pre requisite to being successful, is passion. It is passion that enthuses potential donors of all sizes and passion that carries us through the dark times of rejection and set-backs. Passion is the engine inside every good fundraiser.

Passion is a commodity sometimes undervalued but when the going gets tough such as the times we are in now, passion and belief will carry us through.

It was also hugely encouraging to be reminded by all three panelists that the fundraising community is a rare creature in that competitors are often willing to share insights, hints and tips for improvements and ways to increase funding for ones’ organisation. At first this may seem counter intuitive, but in reality, although we may be fighting for our own individual causes, we are actually all on the same team. The team of making society a better place.

As consultants, we have followed the path not of a single cause but of applying our passion to many. It is a privilege to play a part in other peoples’ success and I hope (I’m pretty confident actually) that of the 60 or so students listening last night, some of the next generation of fundraisers have had their passion ignited.

"They quickly understood our challenges and came up with practical and deliverable solutions for us to implement to help grow funding for young people leaving care in Britain"

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