Training for the Future of Fundraising
What skills would you develop today if you want to be marketable in the fundraising profession in 2025? That's the question I found myself pondering when I was at the DMA Nonprofit Federation's 2014 New York Nonprofit Conference on Monday.
Unfortunately, predicting the future has never been my forte. I'm not an early adapter when it comes to technology (though once I adapt, I kick myself for past procrastination). In real estate, I buy high and sell low. I can't even figure out what to have for dinner tonight.
But when it comes to fundraising, I think I have unlocked the secret to the future. Yes, read on and you will know exactly where to invest your limited time and money in training so you are the most relevant, well-equipped fundraiser in the second quarter of the 21st century.
Why am I so sure? Because the skills I believe you will need aren't "rocket science" — they're the same skills that separate the good fundraisers from the great ones even now in boring old 2014.
Tell a story
It's not hard to find an article that reminds us that, as fundraisers, we need to be able to share the stories that bring the facts and statistics about our programs to life. The difficulty is often in how to tell those stories.
Let's face it — some of us are natural-born storytellers. (I used to describe my mom as having the unusual ability to make a long story longer. So I guess my ability to spin a tale is genetic.) Others stick more to the facts and are the ones you want to make your case to the IRS, should you ever find yourself in that unfortunate position.
But if you work for a nonprofit, I believe there must be something about that organization's mission that keeps you committed to the long hours, sometimes low pay and outdated computers. That "something" is the starting point for your story. What is it that excites you? Who is the person you met who (gasp!) made you fight back the tears or swallow the lump in your throat? What was the scene you looked out on that said to you, "This is why we do what we do"?
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.