Can anyone write a good direct mail pack?

Published by Lucy Gower on

proud-web-headerUnless you have been living in a hole for the last month you will have heard something about the latest campaign ‘proud to be a fundraiser’ from the Institute of Fundraising in the UK.

The essence of the proud to be a fundraiser campaign is not some naval gazing back slapping morale boosting exercise for the fundraising community. It’s about how organisations that are significantly growing their fundraising income are the ones where everyone in the organisation is both proud of what they do and the fundraising activities that enable them to do it. Because without fundraised income charities can’t achieve their mission.

This campaign springs from the Great Fundraising report* that was produced last year by Revolutionise (then Clayton Burnett). When Adrian Sargent was asked to summarise the key finding of the report in one succinct sentence, after some thought, he said,

“Income grows when the entire organisation is proud of its fundraising as an integral part of its mission”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive, Institute of Fundraising sums this up in his recent Guardian blog; when everyone works together to achieve the organisations objective, then everyone is a proud fundraiser for your cause.

Last week, in response to this principle, that in great fundraising organisations ‘everyone is a fundraiser’, I overheard someone rather crossly remark, ‘that’s all very well, but I hate it when people who don’t understand fundraising tell me how to do my job’.

Have you ever had to bite your lip when a well-meaning person points out how in their opinion charities should stop ‘those chuggers’ bothering people, or should stop sending ‘junk mail’ or spending money on big ‘glitzy’ events?

There is a fine balance between the principle that everyone in a charitable organisation, given that fundraising is core to a charity achieving its mission, has a fundraising role, and acknowledging that professional fundraisers embark on a career path that can involve years of study and perfecting the specific skills required for their chosen fundraising discipline.

keep-calm-and-hold-your-head-upWithin the catch all term of ‘fundraising’, there are some core principles that apply across all fundraising disciplines, for example understanding your donors, emotionally connecting through storytelling, asking appropriately, showing donors the difference that their contribution has made and thanking well. Each type of fundraising requires a different and delicate balance of skills.

“As a young professional body, part of the institutes role is to help our members develop specialist, skills and knowledge as well as passion for fundraising through our academic qualifications, training and networking events” ~Peter Lewis, Chief Executive, Institute of Fundraising

Its not the case that anyone can write a good direct mail pack, organise a successful event or inspire a major donor to give a donation, but it is the case that everyone has a part to play to support fundraising by playing to their strengths and through a mutual understanding of how fundraising works.

Whether you work in front line services and share stories about the difference you make, work in finance to make processes work more effectively or are a consultant who provides advice, essentially your role is always about helping the charity achieve the mission and fundraising is core to that.

That’s why one of the recommendations in the proud to be a fundraiser toolkit, which is a practical guide to help you become a great fundraising organisation, is induction and training for all staff so that fundraisers better understand the work of other teams and staff who do not work directly in fundraising understand the principles and how they can add value by becoming both proud of their organisations fundraising and a proud fundraiser.

Whether you have fundraiser in your job title or not, you can learn more about what proud to be a fundraiser means for you by watching the Institute of Fundraising Convention opening plenary,  downloading the proud to be a fundraiser toolkit or get in touch with the teams at Institute of Fundraising  or Revolutionise.

*Download the Great Fundraising report for free here.
*Download the Proud to be a fundraiser toolkit for free here.

Lucy Gower

Lucy has been a fundraiser for over 10 years and is passionate about innovation and how it can transform organisational and individual performance. Lucy is an independent trainer and consultant specializing in innovation in fundraising. Lucy also blogs for fundraising website sofii.org and is a conference speaker both in the UK and overseas.


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