Working effectively with influential advocates
FINZ Northern Breakfast Forum
To be the best we can, we must keep learning— progress slows down for no one. And that’s what’s great about being part of FINZ: the opportunities to learn.
FINZ Breakfast Forums provide opportunities to learn new things — from presenters and fellow fundraisers.
I recently attended a breakfast forum at the Waipuna Hotel & Conference Centre in Mount Wellington, Auckland.
Organised by Clive Pedley, Managing Director of Giving Architects, the forum was based around a panel discussion with three well-known advocates within the fundraising world:
- Dame Rosie Horton — DNZM, charity champion, philanthropist, Starship Patron, NZBCF Board Member
- Sir Bob Harvey — KNZM QSO, Founder of Starship Foundation, Chairman Spark Foundation
- Dr Murray MacCormick — former Chair of Cancer Society Auckland and Cancer Society New Zealand.
This wasn’t a sit-and-listen PowerPoint presentation. Instead, each guest was asked questions to stimulate discussion.
That first approach
Before approaching an organisation, Dame Rosie says it’s important to learn about them first. She points out that, as most organisations have websites, this is easy to do.
And don’t be vague about what you want money for.
“Have a specific goal, like a new roof for your church,” says Dr MacCormick.
Most fundraisers know how hard it can be to reach the relevant people in organisations — thanks to contentious “gatekeepers” protecting their bosses. Dame Rosie says, “Ask yourself whether you know someone who could provide an entree into the organisation you want to approach.”
What advocates want to know
A key question asked was what they consider before getting involved with a charity.
With a background in business, Dame Rosie Horton likes to see the balance sheet. She adds, though, that she has rarely turned down organisations due solely to poor financial status.
“I also go on gut feeling and whether there is any chemistry — do I actually like them?” she says.
Murray MacCormick likes “doing organisations.”
“I want to see that they’re willing to roll up their sleeves,” he says.
Sir Bob Harvey relies on gut instinct, and he also wants to know who else is involved in a charity.
“You have to have a good sense of judgement. Reputation is everything, and it’s a fragile tightrope we walk in New Zealand — the media is often intrusive and ill informed,” he says.
Never underestimate the power of networking
Most of us recognise the power of networking. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother attending events like FINZ breakfast forums. And this power was quite apparent while listening to Dame Rosie, Sir Bob and Dr MacCormick — they are all extremely well connected and use their connections to make things happen.
I’ll finish this post with a great quote from Sir Bob: “My wife often says, ‘how many fish hooks have you got? You’re always thinking about fundraising."'