ProFile: Hans Wolters
FS: In your last two years at the ECFR, you helped double the organization's income. What fundraising tactics and donor-relations strategies did you employ?
HW: At ECFR, the trick was to get donors excited enough about the work that we were doing. We put our time and energy into an incredibly strong communications strategy to ensure that potential supporters knew what we were doing, what we wanted to do and how this would benefit people. We targeted our communications at key regions as appropriate, making best use of the capacity available to us.
For example, when fundraising in Italy, we worked hard to invigorate politicians about what we were doing and placed stories in the media to build the profile of our work. At the outset, we ensured that the standard and quality of communication and overall professionalism were very high.
Having established a high-profile platform, we found that donors were encouraged to support us. Moreover, we found ourselves in the fortunate position that — after a relatively short period of time — some donors were coming to find us.
FS: How has your experience working for and with different organizations over the years helped shape your fundraising philosophy?
HW: There are three key aspects that I believe to be essential when it comes to fundraising: Organizations must always be transparent, accountable and professional. In the same way as businesses do, we have to demonstrate value for money. A donation is an investment — think what the donor is getting in return. The very least we can offer is to ensure that donors are acknowledged and thanked, that they understand how the organization uses its funds and how the charity will go about meeting its objectives. Nonprofits need to be run effectively and efficiently. We cannot and should not be seen as a business — we play a very different role in society — but that doesn't prevent us from looking critically at the business sector to learn from them about improving our effectiveness.