Three simple ways you can influence the fundraising culture of your organisation
— Written by Laura Neill, Senior Copywriter at Marlin Communications.
When I entered fundraising as a content writer, around five years ago, it was with a mix of excitement and trepidation.
I had been chosen to join a development team for a non-profit medical organisation. On one hand, I couldn’t wait to be a part of a team who was making an incredibly positive difference in the healthcare space.
On the other hand, I had been fed the myth that supportive fundraising cultures didn’t exist within charities.
But within months of starting my new role, I was impressed (and relieved!) by the support I received from the entire hospital team. Everyone seemed to understand the value of fundraising, and storytelling as a mechanism to drive it.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that supportive charity cultures, like the ones I’ve experienced, aren’t built by accident. But what I’ve also learned over time is that people’s lived experiences are real – unsupportive cultures can and do exist.
Every organisation is different, so there may not be one blanket solution. But when I reflect on my experience, there were three things I learned to do to build my value as a fundraising copywriter:
Mindset: at first, speaking with surgeons, or researchers, or CEOs was pretty daunting for me. Call it Imposter Syndrome, but I just didn’t feel like I was an expert in any particular field. Why would anyone take me seriously?
What I now know is that every fundraiser is an expert. We’re experts of breaking down complex information, creating compelling stories and inspiring people to act. It’s our job to make sure that we can engage as many people as possible with a cause, and make them care enough about it to give their money, without receiving anything in return. I’d say that makes us pretty important people to have in the room.
Preparation: When it comes to interviews or information-gathering conversations, it pays to come prepared, knowing exactly what information you want to get out of that meeting. It might seem obvious, but this enabled me to stay my path, control the conversation, and speak out when I didn’t understand something. It also helped me reign in the urge to ask questions out of natural curiosity.
Feedback: Closing the feedback loop can be such a satisfying experience! The people interviewed or interacted with should be in the know when a fundraising target is achieved. They gave their time, and put their trust in me to tell the story in the most compelling way. The achievement is theirs to celebrate too!
This year, I’m excited to be among a group of Marliners attending the FIA Conference in Brisbane, where I’m looking forward to seeing the Myth Smashers session, learning even more, and building my value as a fundraising creative.
If this article resonates with you, or if you’ve had a completely different experience, I’d love to hear about it! I’ll be wearing an orange badge at the conference, so please come over and say hi!