Fundraisers, we salute you!

If you’re a fundraiser, congratulations — society is better off thanks to you. So, to celebrate the good work you do, the theme for this year’s Annual Conference is Proud to be a fundraiser.

Few professions can match the satisfaction gained from fundraising. In the corporate world success is measured in dollars and cents; the not-for-profit world, on the other hand, measures success by the difference made in people’s lives.

The challenges of fundraising

We all know, though, that fundraising isn’t all “beer and skittles.” Many of us are overworked (the average New Zealand fundraiser fills about 1.7 positions) and earn less than we might if money was our primary motive.

Also, certain members of the media seem to delight in propagating negativity about the not-for-profit sector. I’m sure you’ve seen naïve headlines like Charities’ fundraising costs swallow millions in donations, or Donors short-changed as money fails to reach the needy. What the media doesn’t appreciate is that, like any organisation, administration costs are unavoidable.

Jeff Buchanan, of Global Philanthropic, summed up the issue brilliantly at a recent Auckland presentation. I don’t recall his exact words, but they went something like this:

“Expecting a not-for-profit to have no admin costs is like dining in a restaurant and refusing to pay for the portion of your meal that pays for the waiting staff.”—Jeff Buchanan

Pretty silly, aye?

FINZ CEO, James Austin, says the fundraiser’s role has never been more important to society.

“Government is not the solution. In the past, we could rely on them to provide. Today, governments have run out of money … it’s not a political thing; it’s a worldwide trend,” says Mr Austin.

Mr Austin adds that fundraising has also become tougher because grant applications are increasing by 20% per year, but money pool remains the same. Not-for-profit organisations are also more professional and, with 27, 365 registered charities now in New Zealand, competition is fierce.  

“The old days of sausage sizzles, shaking buckets and grant applications are over.”— FINZ CEO, James Austin.

Mr Austin also says that the modern fundraiser must be a coach as well as a salesperson.

“A fundraiser often can’t reach senior donors, so they need to coach others in their organisation, like the CEO or a member of the Board, to raise funds as well,” he says.


Alan Clayton: Proud to be a fundraiser

Given the theme of this year’s Annual Conference, it’s appropriate that Alan Clayton kicks things off with an upbeat plenary: Proud to be a fundraiser.

Alan, direct from Scotland, is an educator and international speaker.  He is an advocate for celebrating our industry. In a recent blog he wrote, “When your trustees, CEO and entire organisation are proud to be fundraisers, you will raise much, much more money.”

Alan is extremely proud of the fundraising profession and believes fundraising often saves lives in two ways:

  1. directly, saving the lives of the people money is raised for,
  2. indirectly, many people amongst donor-bases are alive and happier today because of the meaning they’ve gained from their giving, volunteer fundraising and events participation.

If you enjoyed this post please share. Details for this year’s Annual FINZ Conference are below.


FINZ Annual Conference

Where: Te Papa Museum, Wellington, New Zealand

When: 11-13 May, 2015

Email or call 04 499 6223 for enquiries and registrations.


Fundraisers, We Salute You



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