ProFile: Hans Wolters
FS: What lessons have you learned in regard to raising funds? What's worked well for you and your organizations?
HW: NGOs must be self-aware, review fundraising practices, and adapt flexibly and fluidly when things change. Just because one technique has been part of the fundraising strategy for the past decade, it doesn't necessarily mean that it should be there for the coming decade. Look to your own organization, to others within the sector (and beyond) and to the wider marketplace to ensure that you have selected the most appropriate and efficient strategy for your organization. Above all, don't bury your head in the sand. If things need changing, be bold and quick to react.
FS: What are the biggest challenges you face today as a fundraiser? How do you overcome them?
HW: Perhaps the most challenging issue for fundraisers in the current economic climate is fundraisers' own self-cheating attitude that less money will be donated. We know that there is less wealth, but it doesn't necessarily follow that donations should fall. Many NGOs could be aiming higher, and the recession offers a platform to communicate to their donors, albeit in a different way or with a different ask.
FS: What advice would you give fundraisers looking to expand their donor base and contributed income?
HW: I believe that organizational development is absolutely key. As a fundraiser, it is essential that you have the right structure behind you — that you are confident that the organization is operating efficiently and professionally. Whilst the structure itself may not be your own responsibility, you do need to be able to communicate organizational efficiency to potential supporters and donors.
As discussed in earlier questions, aim high even ?during a recession; don't be defeatist; and ensure that — whatever you do — you do it well, professionally and efficiently.