I have been hearing a lot of people who are interested in fundraising or are about to start fundraising ventures echoing the following:
- “The first step towards fundraising is through attending workshops.”
- “The first step towards fundraising is through attending networking events”
The list is endless. I always wondered if the above mentioned activities are really the first step towards a fundraising career.
Let me share a brief history of Salesian Life Choices journey in fundraising. For the first time in 2013 we embarked on a journey of fundraising for our organisation. Since we were novices at the time we attended fundraising workshops in order to gain skills. What puzzled us is that the themes of all workshops we attended were the same e.g. How to write a funding proposal and conduct follow-ups etc. For our fundraising team this experience was futile. Therefore we stopped attending workshops and started asking ourselves a pertinent question which is, What is the first step towards fundraising?
In response to the above question we came up with many different responses like, developing good working systems, good tools, donor retention strategy e.t.c. For me the response which stood out is emptying one’s thoughts, feelings, images, understanding and perception towards fundraising. In other words the first step to start fundraising is pouring out other people’s understanding of this activity so as to give way to one’s own personal or organisational understanding. Once this process has occurred a systematic approach is developed.
The first step in fundraising is therefore to stop developing other people’s systems and start asking your own questions.